REVIEW: Princesses Meet Mecha in Cosmoknights

cropped cover of Cosmoknights

Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer is a webcomic and graphic novel nominated for this year’s Outstanding Comic Ignatz Award. As per the comic’s about page, it follows the adventures of “a ragtag band of space gays… beating the patriarchy at its own game.” And it’s awesome.

Cosmoknights

Hannah Templer
Top Shelf
October 22, 2019 

cover of Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer

In the universe of Cosmoknights, planets are ruled by royal families, and political allegiances are formed by knights jousting for the princesses’ hands in marriage. Pan is the daughter of a spaceship mechanic and a doctor, an ordinary girl whose best friend happens to be one of these princesses, until she runs away to escape her fate. Several years later, Pan’s life is upended again as two of the knights come to her house looking for help. Pan stows away on their spaceship, and finds herself caught up in a plot to end the monarchy entirely.

Cosmoknights explores the idea of fighting the patriarchy through the lens of mech-suit jousting matches. Most of the knights fight for a paycheck from wealthy sponsors who want to marry the princess at stake. Cass and Bee, as the renowned jousting duo Bull and Harrier, fight to free the princesses from their obligation to marry whomever wins the battles, delivering them to distant parts of the galaxy where the princess can start new lives of their own. But the two of them getting older, and their injuries are hitting them harder. When fighting within the system isn’t working anymore, what’s left but to destroy the system entirely? In a year marked by large-scale protests and uprisings around the world, this message feels particularly relevant today.

Speaking of fighting, the jousts in this comic are incredible to look at. The mechs are cool, the special effects are vibrant, the action is just plain fun. There’s a vicarious thrill to seeing the symbols of the patriarchy in this world get beaten up by a pair of women in disguise.Cosmoknights page 36 depicting an action sequence from the comic Any comic set in space lives and dies by its backgrounds, and Templer does an excellent job with hers. Palaces, spaceships, and cityscapes all feel well-thought-out and believable. The environments, characters and even the lettering (done by hand!) and sound effects are all rendered in a unified style, creating harmonious compositions page after page. And the colors! Candy-colored pastels and neons mix with desaturated blues and soft corals to create an appealing, tight palette. This is such a pretty comic.

The environments serve to further the story, too. We see how Viridian goes downhill after the royal family leaves through the boarded-up windows of the shops on Main Street.

Pam staring out the window at her hometown at night.
The buildings! They have character!

Cosmoknights is also unmistakably and unabashedly lesbian. It’s so rare to see butch lesbians in media at all, much less drawn with such care. Cass, Bee, and Pan all have depth and personality to them that make them feel real and likeable. Pan in particular reminds me of being a teenager and uncertain about where my future was going to go. You can feel the love the author has for her subject matter, and that makes Cosmoknights a pleasure to read.panels from page 52 of Cosmoknights showing the main characters interacting.

I haven’t read all of the nominees for the Outstanding Comic Ignatz award this year yet, but Cosmoknights is a very strong contender, with a compelling story, beautiful art, and relatable characters that make every page exciting. If you like lesbians, space, or lesbians in space, this is the comic for you.

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