Pullbox Reviews: Robots vs Princesses, Collected Edition

Harmonia, capital city for all that is good in the world, has a very big day coming up. Under the tutelage of the Queen the Princesses Penelope, Clarisse, Artelia, & Zara have prepared for a recital which will help to determine their place in the kingdom. Through the power of song, the Princesses will prompt their chosen animals to perform a task. For instance, Princess Penelope has chosen a company of cats, mice, & puppies to clean up a mess for her. Unfortunately, Princess Zara has yet to announce the animal she’s chosen as her subject.

But she has made a choice… Princess Zara has determined that the animal for her to sing to is a dragon. Any Princess worth a bean can wrangle puppies and kittens through a song, but a dragon would be something truly special. All she has to do is slip out of the castle in the middle of the night, enter the forbidden woods alone, and find one. Preferably without getting herself roasted by dragon fire, or the Queen discovering her absence. One would be just as bad as the other.

Meanwhile, in the Forbidden Wood- known as Chromia to its population of sentient robots- the war between the Centurions and the Decimators rages on. Tired of the constant fighting, a young robot named Wheeler risks the wrath of Tyrannis, leader of the Decimators, as he prepares to desert. Wheeler will challenge the status quo like no ‘bot before him, and along the way he might befriend a rebellious Princess and help to bring two very different peoples together.

As far as all age friendly titles go, Robots vs Princesses shouldn’t be a really tough sell. First of all, look at the title. We’re talking about a civil war between two groups of transforming robots (not Transformer robots… totally different), and the power of musically inclined Disney-like Princesses (not Disney Princesses… also very different). This is the sort of tongue firmly in cheek mashup that can appeal to anyone, across the board, regardless of age.

I gotta give credit where it’s due, because writer Todd Matthy really has taken on a handful in this project. First, the obvious riffs on well-established and loved properties as the subjects of his satirical spin. The noble Centurions, led by the mighty Ultimus (totally not Optimus)… the evil Decimators, led by the tyrannical Tyrannis (which to be fair sounds nothing at all like Megatron)… a group of courageous Princesses able to enchant helpless animals through the power of song. This story is practically a bullet-point presentation on how to rope in fans of all ages. I’m a middle-aged man and it got me. That it was written to the sensibilities of a much younger audience is irrelevant. The ease with which the various elements are brought together with unapologetic glee is infectious. And just to make sure he got my attention (yeah, I’m taking this a little personally), Matthy even threw in Princess piloted battle mechs (not Battlemechs… again, a totally different thing) to lead the charge! Okay, I’m sure “ease” isn’t the word I should be using If Matthy didn’t have moments of hair pulling frustration, the man should be sainted. Or knighted.

Are there sainted knights? Knighted saints?

Maybe we’ll come back to that…

Of course, for a project like this the art is going to be crucial. Everything has to look just right to be able to tie these very different components together. On board to carry the load almost single-handedly is Nicolas Chapuis, our second candidate for knighted sainthood. The style for a title like Robots vs Princesses would have to meld two very disparate themes together. Chapuis does it like it was magic (maybe he had a Princess singing in his ear? Or a robot? Maybe a robot princess?). I wouldn’t have even known where to begin. Granted, the look for the robots might lean a little more toward Bots who Go (not GoBots… at all) than the more well received robots in disguise, but that was a pretty smart choice. That look blends with the Princesses and their world of Harmonia with less of a jarring clash than more manga-inspired automatons might have. As for those Princesses, their look is an obvious a tip of the hat to their inspirations. The final touch is in the colors… Nothing but the brightest, most pastel-inspired palette would do for a book like this. With nary a shadow to be found, Chapuis maintains the story’s tone while avoiding the very real danger of sending readers into sugar-shock.

Keeping in mind that Robots vs Princesses is intended to be a kid friendly book, there are going to be aspects of it that may not hit the mark for adult readers. If that’s going to be a sticking point for you, particularly if you’re a parent, I think I should remind you that we’re talking about a comicbook. If you need something a little heavier in order to find fulfillment, I can recommend some other likely prospects for you.

But, if you’re interested in some light reading that you could enjoy with your younglings, Robots vs Princesses could serve your needs.

Final Score: a very (i)mmature 8

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