If it wasn’t for the promise at the end of the issue, I’d worry that “Princess Ugg” #8 was the conclusion of Ted Naifeh’s series about a barbarian princess named Ugla who was sent to learn what the rest of the “civilized” world is like. That’s because Naifeh wraps up so much this month that, if it was to suddenly come to a close, it wouldn’t feel like we’d stopped mid-stream.
“Princess Ugg” #8 picks up right where the previous issue left off: the princesses are still captive, being held hostage until their various kingdoms make the appropriate concessions. What’s great is that Naifeh doesn’t tell us how Ugla and the rest of the princesses have changed in their time together; he simply shows us. It’s satisfying to watch Ugla gain not only respect but friendship from the other princesses, which has been a central part of the title and an enjoyable progression.
Perhaps more importantly, though, Naifeh doesn’t lose track of the fact that Ugla’s trip outside her homelands was supposed to bring back knowledge to help her own people. That’s exactly what we see here, as Ugla uses her new-found diplomacy to pull her people from the brink of war. Honestly, it feels a tiny bit rushed but it’s ultimately satisfying and it fits in well with everything Naifeh’s shown us so far. Naifeh’s protagonists are always well-defined even as they change and grow from one comic to the next, and Princess Ugla is no exception to that rule. There’s no way that the Ugla in issue #1 could have handled this moment.
The art in “Princess Ugg” #8 is at its usual consistent level of quality. Naifeh sets up the big moments well, following through in a sequence of panels and pages with a rise and fall of action and anticipation. His characters all look good, and there are some moments — like the smirk on Ugla’s face as she comments to Julie that she knew the scepter would make a good club — that can’t help but crack you up. Add in some lush colors from Warren Wucinich — who works so well with Naifeh it’s hard to believe he’s a relatively recent addition to Naifeh’s comics — and the book looks as strong as it’s written.
“Ugla Will Return” is a promise made at the end of “Princess Ugg” #8, and I’m relieved. This series has been too fun to not continue and, hopefully, it will eventually get the attention it deserves. “Princess Ugg” was, is and no doubt will continue to be a winner.