Review - Princeless: Make Yourself #0 (@ActionLab)

"Free. I feel free."

When she's not saving her sisters from, well, being saved, Adrienne in the Princeless series is learning more and more about herself. That self-awareness continues in Princeless: Make Yourself #0. The issue is written by Jeremy Whitley, illustrated by Alex Smith and lettered by Emily Spura.

Adrienne and Bedelia have checked two of Adrienne’s sisters off of their list and they have three more rescues left to make. But sometimes the hardest fights aren’t with any monsters, but with yourself. Adrienne finally has to face an issue that she’s been struggling with for a long time.

The premise behind Princeless: Make Yourself #0 is pretty profound as Whitley investigates the baggage that comes with one's look. Much of the issue is focused on Adrienne's hair and how it's never something that's been easy to maintain. Whitley uses that as the backbone for the issue, presenting Adrienne as someone looking to redefine herself by getting rid of that very hair that's come to define her. En route to being a new person though, the issue feels a little off for some reason. It makes sense why Whitley focuses a lot Adrienne's hair, but it's almost to the point that it feels like it undercuts the message he's attempting to convey. Most of the hair discussion is centered on how it looks and how others respond to it in a way that feels superficial even though Whitley does manage to bring it back around in a more positive way.

Smith's illustrations are very adult. Previous incarnations of Princeless have felt all-ages and have a cartoonish quality to the artwork, but Smith goes for a different look in Princeless: Make Yourself #0. Adrienne is shown in various stages of hair completeness in a pretty interesting series of pages where Adrienne is recounting to Bedelia the problems her hair has posed. Smith also focuses a lot on facial expressions on the part of Adrienne and Bedelia to add another layer of emotional complexity to the story itself. Overlay panels are used to great effect, emphasizing facets of Adrienne's personality and offering a break from the normal, gridlike panel layout.

Princeless: Make Yourself #0 is an interesting book. It's almost as if Adrienne is going through an identity crisis and is forced to reconcile her past and future based on her looks. Whitley is going for a pretty deep message in that a woman shouldn't be defined by how they look, but sometimes it becomes so pervasive that even the woman herself gets caught up in it. Smith's illustrations are clean and mature, offering a touch of gravity to Adrienne's desire to redefine herself. Princeless: Make Yourself #0 will definitely appeal to fans of the series and gives readers a glimpse at a new Adrienne.

Princeless: Make Yourself #0 is available now.