She-Ra and The Princesses of Power: The Legend of The Fire PrincessWriter: Gigi D.G.Artist: Paulina GanucheauGraphix; $12.99
It’s something of a surprise that it has taken this long for a She-Ra and The Princesses of Power-related comic to see release. Sure, the show premiered just two calendar years ago, but, thanks to the vagaries of television programming in the streaming era, that translates into four completed seasons.
And not only are the characters and concept of the show particularly comics-ready, but showrunner Noelle Stevenson is herself an accomplished cartoonist, having created the webcomic-turned-graphic novel Nimona and co-created Lumberjanes before beginning work on the popular Netflix cartoon.
A tie-in comic, then, seemed particularly inevitable, and so here it is: Legend of The Fire Princess, the first original graphic novel expanding the current She-Ra story into a new medium. A collaboration between Cucumber Quest’s Gigi D.G., here serving as writer only, and Zodiac Starforce artist Paulina Ganucheau, the title pages and front and back covers all note that it is “based on stories by Noelle Stevenson.”
What, exactly, Stevenson’s input might have been in its creation is never made any clearer than that, but after having read The Fire Princess, I would feel pretty comfortable guessing that it was based on ideas for an episode or two of the cartoon that were abandoned at some point, because in terms of its plot, the book reads an awful lot like an episode (or two) of the series. That, I suppose, or else D.G. does a particularly great job of crafting a graphic novel plot that feels like it could have been a lost episode of the series.
Based on the presence of a character lost in the final episode of Season 3, The Fire Princess is obviously set some time before that. Queen Angella has convened a meeting with Adora, Bow and all of the super-powered princesses in the Princess Alliance: Glimmer, Perfuma, Mermista, and Frosta. She suspects that they may have discovered a new runestone, the large and powerful gems that give the various princesses their powers, one that is mentioned in a tragic legend about a princess who let her quest to unlock the stone’s powers ultimately destroy her and her entire kingdom in out-of-control fire.
Echoing an argument that ran throughout Season 4, Glimmer hopes to find the stone and be able to use it to defeat their enemies The Horde once and for all, while Adora and Bow would prefer to simply neutralize it and keep the Horde from weaponizing it. And that is, after all, exactly what Catra wants to do.
So she trails the princesses to the ruins and, once they clear the way for her, she and Entrapta’s robots strike, but in the midst of the battle, they all learn the truth of this particular runestone, and that nobody’s going to be able to use its powers. In fact, they will all be lucky if they escape without also being destroyed by it.
While that’s the plot that moves the action along, as in the TV show, the subject matter is actually that of friendship and interpersonal relationships in general: Their power and positive aspects, but also the dangers and difficulties they can present, particularly when the participants change or their priorities are out of alignment with one another.
And so the titular legend tells of a young woman who neglects her friend and later becomes jealous, while the climax involves the Princess Alliance using their friendship literalized as a magical power capable of stopping the destruction. Scorpia continues to try to win Catra over even though she repeatedly demonstrates she doesn’t care about their friendship, even going so far as to turn their priority mission for the Horde into a “BFF sesh,” which takes the form of an elaborate picnic. Catra and Adora’s conflict continues to be powered by the hurt they feel, each thinking that the other has abandoned them and, here, moved on.
Ganucheau’s artwork is pretty conservative with its interpretation of the designs of the cartoon and the style of its animation, with the only deviations seemingly those that can be accounted for by the shift of the medium and the influence s of her own personal style. In that respect, Legend of The Fire Princess feels like a less adventurous comic-based-on-a-cartoon than, say, Boom Studios’ various Adventure Time comics or Dark Horse’s Avatar comics, but then, this is the first and so far only She-Ra graphic novel.
For now, there’s plenty to recommend this to fans of the show, and I would not be at all surprised to see future She-Ra comics from this and other creative teams.
Filed under: Graphic Novels, Reviews