Friday, August 16, 2013

Review of "Princess Lucinda Book One: Black Rose of the Empire

Today I will be reviewing Princess Lucinda Book One: Black Rose of the Empire. The book can be purchased by clicking on the link.

Unlike most comics, the main character is not a superhero.  In fact, the main character, named Princess Lucinda (PL for short), is actually evil.  A comic - or more precisely in this instance, a graphic novel - based around an evil character is not unheard of, but it certainly presents its challenges when it comes to storytelling.  But before I start getting into the details of the book, it's time for the obligatory


If you haven't read Princess Lucinda and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW!  You have been warned!

The reason Lucinda has the "princess" title is because that's what she is - a princess in a monarchy.  The world she lives in - or rather, the "universe", - is a kingdom of twelve worlds, and she lives on the world that is the seat of the empire, called Homeworld.  The monarchy, named the Nightbanes, rules with an iron fist.  Now, normally I work from the beginning of the book and work forward, but this time, I am going to start from the back of the book, and there's a reason for it that I'll explain in a bit.

 If you read the Appendices in the back of the book, you will see a very complex and detailed history of the world of Homeworld, the Nightbane dynasty, and basically an atlas of the worlds of the Nightbane empire.  As you might imagine with a despotic monarchy, the Nightbane dynasty has had its share of intrigue and backstabbing, including under the current leadership.  However, as human history has shown, empires rise and fall, and despotic empires fall especially hard.  

 We catch the story of PL just before the end of the empire.  Despite preparations against these forms of intrigue, the Nightbane monarchy are caught wholly unaware of the level of resistance that they eventually fall under.  The monarchy resisted as best they could, but eventually the king and queen were killed, but not before seeing PL and her older sister Millicent's escape to our Earth. 

 It could be that the rebels felt a greater impetus to overthrow the monarchy than ever before, due to the fact that they believed PL to be the "qz'nahl", which is "the dark child", defined in the book as "a mythic child of unfathomable malevolence and power".  It could be that the rebels believed that they had to act before PL came to power (in the "taking the throne" sense) and used her magic to entrench her control over the empire to an extent that was too frightening for the rebels to even ponder.  They apparently were so fearful of what would happen under a Queen Lucinda monarchy that they took this drastic step.  Their plans were wildly successful, but with the unfortunate exception that PL and her sister managed to escape.  The one person that they sought above all the others eluded their grasp.  How hard the rebels must be kicking themselves. 

Now we get to the reason that I started from the back of the book first.  I wanted you to understand the level of complexity that the universe of PL works.  PL is the latest (and now, apparently, the last) member of a dynastic family that goes back 700 years.  With so much time in power, no doubt the Nightbanes had encountered every type of plan and scheme imaginable from those who sought to usurp their power.  It could be said, though, that they were so successful that they got to the point of arrogance; that is, they felt that they were unstoppable.  Pride such as this is often the downfall of many despots.

So PL and her sister get to our Earth, and have to make adjustments to life outside their pampered existences.  Despite being away from their seat of power and their universe of twelve worlds, PL and her sister still have all their magic and magical control.  And of course, having been raised to think of herself as "above" us commoners, she treats everyone she encounters in evil ways.  She was raised evil, after all, so it's not at all unexpected that she would only live up to how she was raised.

During the course of the story, many questions came to mind, and I shall hit upon them.  Now, understand that by asking these questions, I'm not seeking direct answers from the creators of PL or anyone else who may be "in the know" of what happens next.  Instead, I ask these questions so that I can see how the upcoming books will answer them.  After all, before I am a blogger, I am also a fan of comics, so I don't want to be denied the very enjoyment that I get from reading comics!

First question: Is the point of PL to demonstrate how evil she is, or will there be, at some future point, a time when PL will be "redeemed"?  Given how she is now, if PL is ever "redeemed" - that is, becomes good, then it will be a LONG time in coming!  Fortunately, she's virtually immortal, so she has time!

By the way, I say "virtually immortal", because the book demonstrates that even though the king and queen are likewise immortal, they can be killed under the right circumstances, so there's no reason to doubt that the same goes for PL and her sister.  Also, if they can't be killed, then why send them away to Earth?  So is a "good Lucinda" possible?  Again, very doubtful, but she did come to the rescue of a woman and her granddaughter, even though she had nothing to gain by it personally. 

Next question: Will we be seeing the arrival of the rebels to Earth, and will they become part of the story of PL during her time on Earth?  That seems most likely, but as to how this takes place remains to be seen.  "Stay tuned, true believers!"

Third question: If it's the intent of the creators of PL that she never "sees the errors of her ways", then is the point of the PL stories a demonstration of the depths that evil can go?  If that's the case, then be prepared to see a lot more senseless deaths.  Just on her short arrival, she turned one woman into a two-headed frog, turned a bus and its occupants into a cigarette and smoked it (I can only assume that the faces in the smoke were the occupants' souls). 

Killing others comes easy to PL, so there's very little hope for redemption. Still, even the remote possibility of redemption will make for good story.  If PL ever sees the light, however, she will have to go through a lot of pain for all that she's done already - probably more than anyone could bear.  But again, a PL redemption story would make for a good story.  A good story is why we read comics, after all.  :-)

And the last question: with the Nightbane power structure now gone, what happens to the empire of twelve worlds?  Who fills the enormous power vacuum left behind by the deaths of its monarchs?  I can see chaos in the twelve worlds, but only after a long, hearty celebration.  It would be interesting to read what's going on in the post-Nightbane worlds as a separate series. 

So now we get to the part of my review in which I ask the all-important question: "Do I want to know 'what happens next?'"  How I answer that question is my measure of a comic.  And the answer to that question is: Yes.  Definitely yes!  I asked all those other questions, didn't I?  Why did I ask them if I wasn't hoping to find some answers!

So thank you, Malcolm Harris, and the rest of you who brought us PL.  A fun read, and gorgeous art to boot; one that definitely complements the writing.  And friends, if you get the book - trust me, there's plenty to read!  LOL  ;-)

As a member of Creators United, Malcolm Harris' Princess Lucinda is now officially added to my sidebar over yonder.  ------------------------>

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