Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack

By Shannon Hale, Nathan Hale, and Dean Hale

[Rapunzel’s Revenge: LibraryThingGoodreads | Calamity Jack: LibraryThingGoodreads]

Rapunzel has lived her whole life in the villa of Mother Gothel, never permitted to look over the surrounding wall. But when she finally catches a glimpse outside, she learns very quickly that Mother Gothel – who, it turns out, is not her mother at all – is a tyrant and the world outside is in need of a hero. Gothel imprisons Rapunzel in a tower – a tower that does something very weird to her hair – but she’s underestimated Rapunzel, who soon breaks out, teams up with a hapless thief named Jack, and sets off across the badlands of Gothel’s Reach, determined to rescue her real mother and bring Gothel down.

In Calamity Jack, Jack and Rapunzel returns to the city of Jack’s birth, from which he was forced to flee after a mishap involving a beanstalk and some giants. Now one of those giants has the city – and Jack’s mother – in an iron grip. With the help of an addlepated inventor and a cunning pixie, Jack must free the city from Blunderboar’s corruption, and prove to both Rapunzel and his mother that he’s more than just a common thief.

I absolutely loved the new Disney movie Tangled. And all of my comic book friends I’ve said that to have said, “You’ve read Rapunzel’s Revenge, right?” But I hadn’t! Not until my BFF Margot gave me both volumes as a Hannukah present, whereupon I promptly devoured them both on the subway home.

The Rapunzel books have pretty much everything I like: A redheaded semi-orphan protagonist with a cheerful, can-do attitude who won’t stand for injustice. A cocky thief with a heart of gold who’s constantly wavering between cunning badassery and adorable failiness. Feminist revisions of fairy tales. Westerns. Steampunk. Hilarity. Partners falling in love. High adventure! It’s like a personal love letter to me.

Of course, having all the things I like wouldn’t mean much if the books weren’t also, you know, good. Luckily, they’re excellent. The plotting is fast-paced and exciting, the dialogue is witty, and the characterizations are beautifully developed. The way Rapunzel grows into her own abilities in particular is wonderfully done, and her relationship with Jack is fairly standard, but adorable. The villains are nicely scary, and there was a twist in the second book that I legitimately didn’t see coming.

The art was also excellent. I like the draftsmanship a lot, and the coloring, but what really struck me was the composition. Some pages I had to just stop and admire the layouts and the skillful ways the writers and artist managed to get enormous amounts of storytelling into each panel. There’s a definite improvement between Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack, but both books are really object lessons in how a perfect marriage of art and writing can create absolutely seamless storytelling.

Finally, wonderfully, the cast was racially diverse. That shouldn’t be such a surprise, but it was. Jack is Native American (or whatever the analogue in this fairy tale world is), but it doesn’t define his character or his family history in any way – he’s an urban baker’s son. It’s just his heritage. The different groups that Rapunzel encounters out west in Rapunzel’s Revenge are from a wide array of ethnicities (plus dwarves and giant sea serpents). It doesn’t take away from the fairy tale setting at all, which is the usual objection to a diverse cast – it enhances the Old West and urban settings of the books.

As you might imagine from all the gushing I just did, Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack get five cupcakes. If the Hales decide to do another Rapunzel book – or, you know, any other graphic novels – I will be all over that.

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    3 Responses to “Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack”

    1. Margot says:

      😀 I am so glad that you liked them. Happy Hannukah! 😀 (FYI – Shannon Hale’s prose work is also excellent. I adore Princess Academy and the Book of a Thousand Days and the Bayern series.)

    2. Stacey says:

      🙂 That is so cool that you like them too! I loved the setting, the characters, the drawings and the ending in Rapunzel’s Revenge. I’m going to read the Princess Academy and also Calamity Jack! I can’t wait! These authors and illustrators truly did stunning and astonishing work!

    3. Patricia White says:

      hey yea I just got done reading repanzules revenge cant wait to read more of them

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