Compiling the first four issues of Princess Candy, Tales of a Sugar Hero tells the origin and adventures of the sugartastic Princess Candy. Halo Nightly is just an average girl who receives a box of candy from her deceased aunt on her 11th birthday. The candy, when eaten, turns her into a superhero and, inexplicably, a princess based on whichever candy she ate. She immediately knows how to use her powers and starts stopping bad guys, including the smarty-pants who she catches stealing test answers to stay ahead of everyone else.
The whole tale is sweet, sweet, sickly sweet, playing up the stereotype that good girls must be pink, candy princesses. Halo can’t just become a superhero with crazy powers; she must be the “princess” of whatever the superpowers are. I understand the need to take the “just average” girl and show her that she is special, too, but making the girl with the good grades and the environmentalist girl two of the villains takes the “average is best” philosophy a little too far.
With very little character or plot development, I would at least hope for some cool dialogue or epic action scenes, but the whole thing felt trite and underwhelming. While I can appreciate that Halo saves the guy she’s crushing on rather than the other way around, does she then have to fight the shape shifter over who gets him in the end?
Pink hair and a heart shaped nose set off Halo’s face while her princess tiara reflects whatever superpower she currently embodies. The art is fun and bright, though you’ll know the villains when you see them by their non-pink wardrobes and an appreciation of the color green. I did enjoy seeing how Halo’s outfits changed with each different type of candy, and the clean and simple backgrounds make the whole book’s visuals pop off the page.
I know that pink princesses are the end all be all for a lot of girls twelve and under, so this book could be a gateway for inviting the royal crowd into the diverse world of graphic novels. It will probably be a big hit with the audience it is intended for, but I wanted so much more substance from the book. I mean, believe it or not, I like a good princess tale, and who doesn’t love candy? However, the lack of depth and too-simplistic characterization make this book like the sweets on the USDA’s food pyramid — consume sparingly.
Princess Candy: Tales of a Sugar Hero
by Michael Dahl, Scott Nickel
Art by Jeff Crowther
Stone Arch Books, 2011