Extraordinary: A Story of an Ordinary Princess puts a humorous twist on an old fairytale trope and crafts an endearing tale of self-discovery.
Princess Basil is the youngest of seven sisters and, while her siblings all received standard fairy blessings like beauty or song, the crabby fairy in charge of her blessing bestowed her with the dubious gift of being ordinary. Much to her chagrin, Basil has grown up to be plain and without any discernable talents, not at all like her sisters or what everyone believes a princess should be! Attempts to rectify the situation with enchanted dresses have all ended in failure, but the Queen isn’t going to give up. She hires a dragon to kidnap Basil, thus ensuring that a brave hero will rescue her and then, of course, marry her. It’s a fool proof plan! But Basil is sick of feeling inferior, so when she discovers a legendary sword in the dragon’s lair, she escapes and sets out to find the fairy responsible for making her ordinary so she can undo her curse of a blessing. Along the way she teams up with Hudson, a sheep-herder who dreams of becoming a knight, and the two of them share the adventure of a life-time that will end up changing them both.
Extraordinary is a fun and sweet fairytale about finding yourself and growing up. At the start of the comic, Basil doesn’t feel like she fits in with the rest of her family and considers herself a failure. Her blessing ensures that any efforts to alter her appearance with makeup result in disaster and even beautiful outfits seem to look dull and drab when she puts them on. Any time she tries one of the activities that her sisters excel at, she finds that she has no natural affinity for it. However, it’s implied by later events that, while she might not be naturally good at anything, Basil isn’t incapable of gaining skills and she does get better at using her sword with practice. Meaning, that while she may never have become extraordinary at any of the activities she’d tried, she probably would have gotten better at them if she had enjoyed them enough to keep trying, just like anyone else would. Over the course of her adventures Basil gains more self-confidence as she and Hudson overcome various obstacles, and she discovers a love of adventure and a well of courage that she hadn’t known she possessed. All of which was possible because the blessing of being ordinary gave her the freedom to discover who she was for herself. Basil’s sisters, on the other hand, all received gifts that gave them particular talents or qualities and they wound up locked onto specific paths by those gifts. For example, does Basil’s sister who received the gift of song spend so much time singing because she actually likes it? Or does she do it because she’s good at it? If she never received that blessing, would she have become passionate about something else entirely? Basil’s sisters will probably never know the answers to those questions. The idea that the fairy blessings decide a person’s fate before they have a chance to figure out what they want, is an interesting thought and I appreciate it when stories aimed at children pose difficult questions like this.
Some of the comic’s other attempts to subvert fairytale clichés were not as original. The dragon that kidnaps the princess turning out to be nice has been done multiple times and I feel like I’ve seen plenty of inelegant and grouchy fairies at this point. Still, Extraordinary manages to be pretty funny in places. Basil’s mother, in particular, is hilarious! Her maniacal look when she explained her dragon-kidnapping scheme got a big laugh out of me. This is a lady who will stop at nothing to see her daughter get a “Happily Ever After” ending!
Extraordinary: A Story of an Ordinary Princess shows us that even ordinary people can be capable of great bravery and accomplish big things. While not all the jokes hit their mark, I think this comic has enough heart and humor that it will leave a lasting impression on readers.
Final Score: 7 out of 10.
For more information on Extraordinary: A Story of an Ordinary Princess, visit Dark Horse Comics’ website: https://www.darkhorse.com/Books/3003-869/Extraordinary-A-Story-of-an-Ordinary-Princess-TPB
Let me know what you thought of this comic in the comments. Check out some of my reviews of other all-ages comics:
- Pilu of the Woods Review
- Nightlights Series Review (Nightlights & Hicotea)
- Rainbow Brite Vol 1 Review
- Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant Review
- Hex Vet Vol 1 & 2 Review
- Newsprints Review