In Mega Princess, Kelly Thompson (Jem and the Holograms, Hawkeye) brings her energetic, aware writing style to a wide-ranging fantasy adventure for kids. The mega princess of the title is Maxine (who prefers Max). It’s her tenth birthday, which means she gets the powers of all princesses. But what she really wants to be is a detective (in the cutest little blue trenchcoat).
Max, accompanied by her pony Justine, gets to combine both sides of her life when her adorable younger brother, Prince Bobs, is kidnapped and the two set out to find him. Along the way, Maxine also learns why maybe calling her steed “jerk pony” isn’t the best grounds for a helpful relationship. Justine is a welcome voice of reason at times, as well as someone for Max to explain things to.
Max is so full of ideas it’s inspiring. Instead of fancy show jumping attire (demanded by her mother, who is remarkably patient with what would be a difficult child), she makes her pony a cardboard suit of armor with wings and buttons for all kinds of powers. She’s got gumption, and while it sometimes gets her in trouble, she’s also got a good heart and an ability to be the best kind of princess when she needs to be. She’s creative with her powers and tries talking things out before resorting to magic solutions.
Of course, Max has a fairy godmonther, Amber. But in keeping with the modern mash-up feel of this story, she wears a charcoal hoodie over her color-streaked hair with leggings and boots. When they meet, Max describes her well, saying, “You kinda look like my friend’s punk rock older sister.”
Brianne Drouhard’s animation background is an obvious influence on the vitality of the characters and the richness of the environment. The reader can almost see them moving as they argue or gesture or travel to a variety of imaginative lands. Max and Justine wind up visiting Tiny Kingdom, Atlantis, and an evil queen’s castle along their way, all populated with odd little characters that add to the entertainment.
There’s lots here for readers of all ages to appreciate, whether it’s Justine’s fondness for quoting The Wizard of Oz or the appreciation of a smart big sister saving the day through imagination and determination. I’ve previously posted a big chunk of preview pages. (The publisher provided a digital review copy. Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)