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Review: ‘Disney Princess: Ariel and The Sea Wolf’

Disney Princess: Ariel and the Sea Wolf
Writer: Liz Marsham
Artist: Tara Nicole Whitaker
Dark Horse Books; $7.99

Long before she was pining over a handsome human prince or patiently listening to a crab try to convince her that life underwater is better than life on land in song form, Disney’s Little Mermaid was an even more little mermaid, having gentle adventures with her half-dozen sisters under the sea.

Disney Princess: Ariel and the Sea Wolf is a beginner graphic novel set during the character’s childhood, targeted towards readers not much younger than she was at the time.

One day, Ariel is regaling her sisters with a fantastical story they don’t believe for a second, when a sweep of her hand knocks one of their bracelets off…and into Creepy Cave, home of a monster named Knifetooth who grabs anyone who gets too close.

That night, while her sister’s sleep soundly, Ariel can’t stop thinking about the cave, the monster and the bracelet, and decides to sneak off to investigate. She sees a scary, shadowy figure snatch the bracelet between its sharp teeth, and retreat further into the cave.

Eventually, the brave and resourceful Ariel determines the true identity of “Knifetooth”…it’s actually just a little fish named Spike, no bigger or scarier than Ariel’s fish pal Flounder, with a pair of pointy fangs sticking out of her mouth. 

Ariel befriends Spike, who introduces her to her parents—who are much bigger and scarier than Spike, but also friendly—and Ariel introduces Spike to her sisters. 

At just 32 pages, it’s a quick read—more graphic short story than graphic novel, really—with just enough conflict to give it the satisfying shape of a story and propel the action along, without ever getting too intense. 

Artist Tara Nicole Whitaker’s luminous artwork pretty expertly de-ages the teenage heroine and her older sisters into younger, smaller versions of themselves that are still instantly recognizable, and the setting seems to be a nice compromise between the world of the film and more story book-simple backgrounds. 

Following the story, there are a half-dozen further activities, including prompts for telling stories and a “scavenger hunt” of images from the preceding pages. 

All in all, it’s a pretty nice starter graphic novel for young fans of the classic movie. Dark Horse Books has also published a companion book by Nidhi Chanani, Disney Princess: Jasmine’s New Pet, in which the princess from Aladdin gets the tiger cub that would grow up to be Rajah. 

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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