Review - Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2

What's a feisty young elf to do in prison? Or a blacksmith's daughter facing her parents' impending divorce? Those questions and more are answered quite entertainingly in Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2 from Action Lab Comics.

The series boasts the writing skills of Jeremy Whitley, features art by Jules Rivera, Kelly Lawrence, Meredith Moriarty, Nancy King, Sarah Leuver and Emily C. Martin and is lettered by Dave Dwonch.

The first story is called "The Runaway Prince." Prince Wilcome of the Lumderia has been imprisoned and he must set aside his fear of elves after befriending one named Tempest. Tempest is a bit of an acrobat and promises to get Wilcome out.

The second story is called "The Smiths." It takes readers back to the character of Bedelia, the fast-talking blacksmith from the core Princeless series. Readers learn more about how she became the talented blacksmith that she is and why she chose to join Adrienne on her adventures.

Themes of women empowerment continue to be in abundance in Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2 and that's a good thing. Whitley infuses his characters with such strong will and desire to be independent that it motivates their decision-making. The characters have clear goals in mind and want to achieve them, doing whatever it takes.

The two short stories in the book are character driven, as opposed to plot driven, which is awesome. Having characters that you can see promise and flaws in makes it easier to relate to them as a reader, which requires more investment on your part. It's an engagement that allows you to better enjoy the story while also commiserating with some (or all) of it.

There's a wide range of art in Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2 and it's all good. Rivera gets full run on "The Smiths," showing why she has a complete handle on the vibe Whitley is going for. Lawrence's work on "The Runaway Prince" is very reminiscent of an old-school JRPG, so much so that you're waiting for the menu box to pop up and offer you equipment options. And it's great.

Martin is the series artist and she gets her chance to shine in a special preview of Princeless Vol. 2 at the end of the issue. All the art is consistent despite the different artists, but each manage to add their own touches to their works.

The pin-ups by Moriarty, Leuver and King are nice intermission pieces. They really capture the Princeless universe quite well and are also great to look at. Action Lab could easily offer the pin-ups as standalone prints and they'll likely be snapped up by many.

Say what you want about comics from the big two, but it's books like Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2 from Action Lab that offer readers something a little lighter. That's not to say they don't tackle the bigger issues, as the Princeless series always deals with issues such as racism and feminism. They do it in a way that's not preachy though, instead relying on good storytelling and art to subtly get the message across.

Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #2 is in stores in October.