The best one-shot comics are those anyone can pick up and enjoy. Even if it’s not an established character, people should be able to read it from cover to cover and get a whole experience. With that expectation in mind, and having read not a single Damsels comic, I went in to answer the question: is it good?
Damsels: Giant Killer One-Shot (Dynamite Entertainment)
Thankfully this story can be enjoyed by everyone as the story doesn’t use any established characters and is completed by issue’s end. Dynamite’s summary reads:
Queen Jacquelyn of Villeneuve is a benevolent ruler, a loving mother, a devoted wife, and a woman with a monstrous score to settle. Set more than a century before the events of Damsels, this gigantic one-shot tells the tale of one woman’s quest for ultimate revenge. By sword, or by sorcery, all shall be slain.
Protip: this story is based on Jack and the Beanstalk, at least the background is based on it. The characters are not, but the bad guys are giants and there is assuredly a beanstalk to climb. The issue opens with the queen “20 leagues up” preparing an army for battle. It then quickly cuts to a flashback taking place a few hours before the queen mounted up her army.
Yeah, you moron!
It’s no spoiler to tell you she’s got her wizard working on a sick mech to help her chop some giants down to size. The mech serves as the centerpiece of action, but the real enjoyment you’ll take from reading this issue is the strong female lead. Writers Leah Moore and John Reppion do a great job solidifying her as a woman who will stand her ground. The first flashback shows her mothering her son and for all intents and purposes appears to be another woman who knows her role. But when it comes to her attention that she can finally seek justice, she constantly tells her knight, “would you question the judgement of your king?” She says it a few times, and the repetition solidifies her character and helps separate her from the damsels you see in Disney flicks.
Shut up insolent peasant!
The art by Deitrich Smith is well rendered throughout. His giants are just the right amount of grotesque and disturbing. I was surprised by the design of the head giant, because he looks somewhat similar to the Rancor. At least the mouth is the same. The mech suit on our queen looks cool, but the way he’s drawn her head makes it look a bit goofy. It’s like her head was pasted onto the frame of the thing. Considering how fantastical it all is, though, it shouldn’t bother readers too much.
Two things bothered me with the art: The first is how Smith draws the flashbacks. It’s not immediately obvious they are flashbacks, as there’s no segue or text to say it’s a different time from the opening pages. The blue haze at the right and left of the page do give the pages a sense something is different, but it looks rudimentary and hastily added. The second thing is the layouts. They’re much too simple, especially for a fairy tale story of this caliber. Every panel spans the width of the page with two to four panels per page. It makes the story feel linear and very by the numbers.
Good thing the forecast calls for clouds.
- Giants look great
- Strong female lead
- Boring layouts
- Odd technique to convey flashbacks
Even though the art is well rendered, the layouts are boring and the flashbacks not immediately obvious. The story is good enough to make up for that though, as the queen is a strong female lead in an industry of weak female characters. The mech element, while a bit crazy to see in a fairy tale, works because it makes sense in this world. The giants also look fantastic and the concluding battle is balanced well with flashbacks.
Is It Good?
Yes. A good one-and-done read anyone can enjoy.