Robots vs Princesses
Nicolas Chapus (art and Cover Art); Todd Mathy (writing); Sean Rinehart (Letters); Andrew Frank Rodriguez (Map Illustration)
September 18, 2019
Robots vs Princesses is one of those books that works beautifully in the writing department, but leaves something to be desired in the art department.
Zara, Princess of Tanglewylde, attends school in Harmonia, and is preparing for an upcoming recital of great import. If she doesn’t have a song to sing that will enchant an animal into doing her bidding, her teacher warns her, she’ll never convince a prince to marry her. That’s something Zara has no real interest in.
When a loud rumble disturbs the class, the Queen remarks that the dragons are going at it again. The “dragons” are in fact robots fighting a never-ending war of attrition in neighboring Chromia, and young Wheeler has had enough. Escaping the war between the Decimators and the Centurions, he runs into the woods. Also in the forest is Zara, looking for real dragons. Zara sings out, thinking she’ll draw her destined dragon to her, but instead pulls in Wheeler, who’s transformed into a dragon-like creature. Zara and Wheeler make a deal. He’ll play along at her recital, and she’ll transform him back as part of the grand finale of her performance. But the course of magic never did run smooth.
What works about Robots vs Princesses is its commitment to its premise, and its totally over the top sense of playful humor. It’s basically “Disney Princesses Fight the Transformers” (which soon turns adds in Voltron/Power Rangers elements), and it has the same appeal as pouring out all of your toys on the floor and creating original storylines for them with your siblings or friends.
But the plot gels beautifully, even without the emotional comfort food of imagining yourself zooming through the air with your robot pals. The worldbuilding on display is very nice. Zara is a winning heroine, but I found her friends to be even more delightful, particularly the hilarious Penelope.
Sadly, you’ll notice I’m mostly talking about the writing here. The art isn’t atrocious, but it isn’t the best; in large battle scenes the robots are well-detailed and the girls are charming enough, but most of the human characters are often portrayed with a bug-eyed, open-mouthed expression that made them look like mannequins that were caught in an updraft. This doesn’t do a huge service to a frankly fun story, though I’m sure children won’t mind it (and the compelling story is worth carrying through to read about it anyway).
Robots vs Princesses is a really nice family fable that perhaps needed a little more time to bake in the art department. Otherwise, it’s a fun rip-roaring fantasy about the power of friendship to change lives in the strangest and most important ways.