Fairy Tales in the Wild West
"Rapunzel's Revenge" is a comic that is not so much a reimagining of a popular fairytale as one that takes the story of Rapunzel as basis for a totally new story. In my opinion it works rather well, creating a story whose fairy tale influences are able to be picked out, but don't overwhelm the original parts of the tale.
Rapunzel is a young girl who grows up in a large villa full of verdant plant life. The fecundity of the ground is the result of the woman who Rapunzel thinks is her mother, a witch named Gothel with extraordinary growth magic (she can make plants grow or wither with nothing more than a snap of her fingers).
Rapunzel has a fairly satisfactory life, but is curious as to what lies on the other side of the gigantic wall that surrounds the villa. What she finds there shatters everything she knows: Gothel is not her mother, but took her from a woman whose husband dared to steal some rapunzel leaves from her (as goes the traditional story), and she has become tyrant over an immense territory, dependent on her growth magic to survive. The knowledge of this, as well as her defiance of Gothel, gets Rapunzel banished to a far away glade where she's imprisoned high up in a hole in a tower-like tree.
Right here is about where the story diverges from the traditional fairy tale. Instead of waiting around for some prince, Rapunzel breaks out herself, with the help of her extraordinarily long hair, a side-effect of being trapped in the magical grove. Teaming up with a young rascal named Jack with a goose who refuses to lay golden eggs and a lucky bean, she makes her way back to Gothel's villa to free her mother and take revenge on the evil witch.
Most of the rest of the book is taken up with picaresque vignettes of Jack and Rapunzel (or "Punzie," as he calls her much to her annoyance) as they try to help the various people that they come across who've been impoverished or oppressed by Gothel's cruel rule. Everything is much like a typical fairy tale realm, but with a nice Old West twist: there are banditos and cowhands, Indians and coyotes, and even an antelope-horned wizard and dwarven prospectors.
The vignettes show how Jack and Rapunzel evolve over time, becoming bolder and more heroic, until they finally reach Gothel's villa for the big showdown.Rapunzel is brave but heedless, and often the more practical-minded Jack has to talk her out of a dangerous plan. Jack is a typical good hearted rogue, with hints of a mysterious backstory of his life "back East," a place he had to flee thanks to causing some trouble with some giants. I liked how Jack becomes less roguish and more heroic as he comes under Rapunzel's influence, and how their relationship strengthens and deepens in a rather sweet way as they journey together.
The drawing is good by is nothing amazing. The pictures do their duty of representing the story, but in and of themselves are not particularly special. That said, I did like the drawing style, which is able to capture the raw beauty of the landscape Jack and Rapunzel pass through while not looking out of place when things turn more comical.
All in all I really liked this comic. it's suitable for all ages, and is fun for everyone who cares to read it. I'm looking forward to reading "Calamity Jack," a book I've seen around which looks to be a sequel of sorts focusing more on Rapunzel's erstwhile sidekick. Hopefully it'll be just as good as this book is.
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