Review: ‘Mega Princess’
Written by Kelly Thompson, illustrated by Brianne Drouhard
KaBoom! (Boom! Studios), $14.99
Ages 8 and up
Kelly Thompson (Jem and the Holograms, Hawkeye) brings her energetic, aware writing style to a wide-ranging fantasy adventure for kids. The mega princess of the title is Maxine (who prefers Max). It’s her tenth birthday, which means she gets the powers of all princesses. But what she really wants to be is a detective (in the cutest little blue trenchcoat).
Max, accompanied by her pony Justine, gets to combine both sides of her life when her adorable younger brother, Prince Bobs, is kidnapped and the two set out to find him. Along the way, Maxine also learns why maybe calling her steed “jerk pony” isn’t the best grounds for a helpful relationship. Justine is a welcome voice of reason at times, as well as someone for Max to explain things to.
Max is so full of ideas it’s inspiring. Instead of fancy show jumping attire (demanded by her mother, who is remarkably patient with what would be a difficult child), she makes her pony a cardboard suit of armor with wings and buttons for all kinds of powers. She’s got gumption, and while it sometimes gets her in trouble, she’s also got a good heart and an ability to be the best kind of princess when she needs to be. She’s creative with her powers and tries talking things out before resorting to magic solutions.
Of course, Max has a fairy godmonther, Amber. But in keeping with the modern mash-up feel of this story, she wears a charcoal hoodie over her color-streaked hair with leggings and boots. When they meet, Max describes her well, saying, “You kinda look like my friend’s punk rock older sister.”
Brianne Drouhard’s animation background is an obvious influence on the vitality of the characters and the richness of the environment. The reader can almost see them moving as they argue or gesture or travel to a variety of imaginative lands. Max and Justine wind up visiting Tiny Kingdom, Atlantis, and an evil queen’s castle along their way, all populated with odd little characters that add to the entertainment.
There’s lots here for readers of all ages to appreciate, whether it’s Justine’s fondness for quoting The Wizard of Oz or the appreciation of a smart big sister saving the day through imagination and determination.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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