Rainbow Brite is a cartoon of which I know next to nothing about. Not because it was targeted towards girls; I had a period where I played Barbies with the neighbor girl Jan (not Brady) who pretended not to know me later in high school because I was in the nerd outcast clique. At the time the Rainbow Brite cartoon series was airing in the mid 1980s I was busy working to make rent money and buy groceries and too tired for Saturday morning cartoons.
What’s that? “Why am I reviewing the comic?” you ask. Mainly curiosity. I’m familiar with Jeremy Whitley’s writing from Princeless and Unstoppable Wasp and Brittney Williams from Patsy Walker Hellcat and Goldie Vance, all of which I found fun and enjoyable and I wondered what these two might create working together. Also, who doesn’t need a little more fun in their life? I know I do.
And fun is what Whitley and Williams deliver with Rainbow Brite featuring best friends Willow and Wisp, two young girls who love LARPing “Knights and Wizards” as the Wonderful Wizard Willow and the Wild Warrior Wisp! Their imagination and enthusiasm is so infectious that Willow’s parents are willing to join the girls if only briefly by tailoring their speech to the girls’ LARP theme. Later that night, Wisp hears a loud noise outside their home and leaps into action with her wooden sword only to discover a trio of monsters threatening her mother’s car. Wisp charges to defend the family car only to be chased by the monsters. Sprite leader Twinkle appears to save Wisp just as it looks really dire for her and Twinkle teleports them to Rainbow Land which isn’t much of a respite as the kingdom is under attack by a villain who controls the creatures from whom they just escaped.
There is a number of other things to like in this issue such as laughter and unbridled joy and the deep friendship, respect, and love these two girls have. Willow shares her lunch with Wisp because she knows Wisp hasn’t eaten breakfast. They’re both creative and imaginative. Willow sewed her wizard costume with her mother’s help and Wisp dreams of forging her own knight’s armor. All they really need is their curious minds to enjoy playing together as heroes rescuing imperiled villagers. While Wisp pictures herself as a brave knight, she also acts as a pseudo caregiver with her single working mother and the implicit reason for Wisp attacking the creatures is that she knows how critical a role that car plays for her and her mother’s well being. Likewise, Willow doesn’t hesitate to help her friend when the fight ends up at her home in the closing scene.
Why have Whitley and Williams not worked together before? Williams really seems to have enjoyed working from Whitley’s script. Her minimalist line work is descriptively playful and expressive in bringing these girls and their world to life. With Rainbow Brite as the title of a comic you expect to see color. Colorist Valentina Pinto brings the magic and is the perfect compliment to Williams’ line work. Her simply rendered palette is bright without being harsh. Even the night scene is brought to vivid life under her skillful eye. All the vivid coloring contributes to a jarringly effective last page reveal with Wisp and Twink in Rainbow Land.
If you’re looking an all ages comic that’s fun and colorful featuring young girls who easily pass the Bechdel test while setting out on a hero’s quest then Rainbow Brite is for you!