Ladycastle #1

Ladycastle #1 cover by Ashley A. Woods

Talk about catching the hottest wave in culture! The four-issue miniseries Ladycastle tags into several current areas of debate, protest, and wishful thinking. As written by Delilah S. Dawson and illustrated by Ashley A. Woods, it’s an adventure fantasy in which almost all the men have disappeared.

We open with the famous concept of a princess trapped in a tower. She even sings! She’s a bit snarky, though, with a pet snake and dreams of anarchy. The other women — a blacksmith and the princess’ younger sister, who wants to be a knight, among them — have been getting on with daily tasks while the king and all the other men have ridden off to battle.

Sadly, only one knight returns. Sir Riddick is an older man (with an impressively substantial mustache) who brings back word that the entire group was destroyed by a dragon. Worse, because the men were stubborn and greedy, the castle was cursed, doomed to attract monsters until the spell is broken.

The women get on with forming a plan to survive, letting people previously forced into behavior they weren’t comfortable with instead play to their strengths. After all, when survival is at stake, it doesn’t matter so much what your clothes or hair are supposed to look like. These women have accomplishments and abilities regardless of gender, although they’ve been suppressed by their culture in the past.

So this comic features a diverse society of women defending themselves and finding better ways to do things. Why kill invading creatures when you can make use of them, for example? Seeing tradition turned on its ear is a wonderful inspiration.

Plus, the comic is also both funny and touching. It’s amusing to see, for example, Riddick assuming that he’d be king just because he’s a guy, and I felt for Princess Aeve trying to forge a relationship with her younger sister, who still buys into their departed father’s manipulations and traditions. Although on the surface Ladycastle is a feminist take on the stupidity of medieval society, there’s a lot to unpack here on re-readings. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

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