Review – Ladycastle #3 (of 4) (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Delilah S. Dawson
Artist: Ashley A. Woods
Release Date: 26th April, 2017

After fending off Fire Salamanders and Werewolves during the first two issues, the cursed all-female inhabitants of Mancastle Ladycastle now find themselves beset by Harpies.  As you do.  However, in keeping with the recurring theme in this series of first impressions being misleading, the Harpy “attack” takes the form of a rather cordial sit-down feast before the good ol’ fashioned ransacking begins.

Yes folks, it seems that tea, pastries and fancy gowns are the order of the day in Ladycastle, and – as you might expect – nobody is too thrilled about it, Gwyneff in particular.  And, while it’s still a little on the nose at times, I’m happy to report that this series is finally starting to build some genuine momentum, and the more we get to know the inhabitants of Ladycastle, the better Deliah S. Dawson’s story works.

Oh, and Dawson also scores some extra points for giving the now familiar musical opening a fantastic ‘Fresh Prince’ spin this time around.

Aside from the main ‘here come the monsters’ storyline, and much like in the previous issue, writer Dawson casts off the shackles of a previously downtrodden castle inhabitant here, this time in the form of a Ms. Physik, a servant to the former Physician who was forced to wear a mask to hide her “Dune Lands” appearance.  Physik turns out to be a valuable addition to the team, giving our heroes some insider information about the Harpies’ customs and ceremonies that proves invaluable in deciding how best to deal with their uninvited guests.

Ultimately though, it’s Gwyneff who takes center stage, and it’s her grudging realisation that you can still be brave and heroic while wearing a pretty dress that provides main message of this issue.   Much like Andrew Wheeler and Paulina Ganuchau’s Another Castle, Dawson and Woods make sure to emphasise that ass-kicking and pretty dresses aren’t mutually exclusive, and in doing so, inject this story with a wonderfully positive message that I think we can all get behind.

I have to say, Ashley A. Woods’ artwork still doesn’t quite work for me, with the frequent lack of backgrounds continuing to give the book a decidedly sterile feel.  Her characters are lively and expressive enough, and the character designs themselves are top notch, particularly for the Harpies, but it all just feels a little sparse, almost like an unfinished proof before the final finishing touches are added.  It’s not a bad looking book by any stretch of the imagination, it just doesn’t quite deliver the visual aspect of the story in the way I imagined it would.

So, while it’s still not quite as fiery as I’d have hoped, the central point of this issue is delivered effectively, and the positive message contained within these pages makes this a comic I’d heartily recommend for younger readers.  It’s going to be interesting to see whether this series manages to resolve itself satisfactorily in just one more issue, but for a light, enjoyable and relentlessly positive read, you could definitely do a lot worse than spending a little time with the inhabitants  of Ladycastle.

Rating: 3.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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