The Damsels series, both the straight forward series by Leah Moore and the sequel series about the Littler Mermaid are at once good and leave you wanting more. They are wonderful and frustrating. It’s good but there is a sense that it can be much more.
In part both series, in particular the first by Moore, explore the idea of storytelling as how it effects those in the story. Are you living your life or simply a narrative? In Moore’s Damsels this is carried though to the end of the series, but that ending feels rushed.
Damsels Vol 1 and Vol2 follow the adventures of Rapa and her associates. The story starts in meds rex. You do not have a very strong sense of a what is going on, but that is because Rapa doesn’t, she is after all missing her memory. It is then revealed that she is hunted; she is one of the missing princesses, for the witches have taken revenge. Hence, we have a combination of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid, and Red Riding Hood, among others.
The character design is wonderful and Moore keeps to the harsher, more extreme version. So, the Beast is cursed because he doesn’t want to have sex with an older woman, Sleeping Beauty is named Talia. Though the stories are not quite as dark – Rapa doesn’t seem to have given birth to twins in the desert, among other things. Yet the small details are quite amazing. Rapa’s hair, for instance, is wonderfully rendered, and the comment from Talia about always being the spotlight and forced to be perfect are a wonderfully rebuke to the media and its portrayal of princess.
The combination of various stories works quite well. But the ending is sudden. It works for the ending tells into the idea of storytelling well as well as the power of belief, but it also hits too fast and too many plot points are either hastily tied up or forgotten. Perhaps this because the series was canceled, but I’m not sure.
The Mermaids series which runs five issues chronicles the adventures of the Little Mermaid, seemingly before the start of the Damsels series. The pacing is better, though I give the original series an edge in terms of art (though this is a totally subjective view). The story is also somewhat darker, though there is a wonderful conversation between the mermaid and a selkie that sets the story going.
There is a bit more humor in the Mermaid series as well, in particular during the fight scenes. Like the original series, it is also concerned with the idea of kingship, love, and ruling. It is also more of a woman in a man’s world story as well.