- Title: Damsels in Excess #1
- Writer: Vince Hernandez
- Pencils and Colors: Mirka Andolfo
- Inks: Simone Di Meo
- Publisher: Aspen Comics
- Release Date: July 23, 2014
‘Who is our audience?’
When the creators of Damsels in Excess were brainstorming, I wonder if they asked this question and if so, what was the answer.
The book is billed as a ‘fairy tale adventure’ and you can read more about it through this promotional article/press release. Since one of the ongoing discussions in comics is the dearth of quality comics for kids, I saw ‘fairy tale adventure’ in the promotional materials and thought that maybe this book might be trying to get into that niche. The comic book form can tell any type of tale and should be able to reach any audience with the right concept and story telling.
So I read the book. I read the whole thing. I read it again to see if I missed something the first time and after all of that I have no idea to whom I would recommend this book. The aspects that might appeal to one group of readers seem to be counteracted by other aspects. I am left a bit befuddled.
The basic story is that there is a magical kingdom broken into five realms. All of the men have been killed (thus the title) by the magic of a queen upset at finding her king sleeping with another woman. Some years later, each realm is headed by a princess. The princesses are all about 18 and at the end of the first issue, a secret is revealed that should drive the plot forward in upcoming issues.
The book is described as follows, “Journey to a place where magic is abundant, unicorns and ferrets can command armies, and five women struggle to find balance and power–in an ever-changing fairy tale world!” This description by itself, along with the variant cover by Agnes Garbowska, might lead you to believe that this book is appropriate for kids and specifically targeted for young girls. I thought that as well but when I read the book I found that it also features
- copious cleavage from our princesses and almost all of the women of the realms
- a depicted extramarital affair (justified by our narrator due to the stress of dealing with the queen)
- the death of all men in the five realms by the betrayed queen
I looked through the book a couple of times and rarely does a woman that is outside the age range of 18 to 25 make an appearance. Nearly all the women wear revealing outfits and there is practically no variation in body type. With no men around, it makes one wonder why women wouldn’t choose to wear somewhat more practical clothes since they are responsible for all aspects of society. While I’m sure that high-heeled armored leggings and strapless gowns are perfect for some occasions, I can’t think that said occasions would be frequent.
The artwork and coloring in the book is very clean and shows a fine level of skill, if not flexibility. The book is certainly pretty to look at and it is easy enough to follow the basic plot. The princesses seemed rather shallow for the most part and hopefully they will be fleshed out (their personalities not their bodies) a bit more in future issues for those that choose to continue reading. I will not be continuing the journey.
The fact is that even really great books can struggle to find readers and some books that I totally don’t understand can become big hits. If this book finds a waiting readership then bully for the creators and I will stand corrected. Time will tell how the book is received and by whom.