Snow White is a character that derives her stories from the fairy tales of the Brother Grimm. The story is told generally around the same general theme, that of a girl that is hunted by an evil queen because of her beauty (in some versions of this story the character is the queen’s daughter.)
Snow White is notable as being the story told in the original Disney feature length animated film. As such the character is generally considered a Disney property, though as a fairy tale character she belongs to the public realm (though Disney owns the likeness of its own character.) As such the character’s first appearance was in Mickey Mouse Holiday Special #2 in 1937.
The majority of the character’s comic book appearances have been in Disney themed comics, some of which retell parts of her fairy tale story, and others which tell other stories. With an interest in fairy tale characters in other forms of media the character has started to show up in other forms of media, such as Max Hamm: Fairy Tale Detective, Steampunk Fairy Tales or something more in line with a modern depiction of characters as in Grimm Fairy Tales from 2005.
Major Story Arcs
Primarily the character’s history does not deviate much from her classical fairy tale version. In this the queen wishes for a daughter pale as snow, red as blood and black as ivory wood (which would be Snow White’s skin, lips and hair respectively.) The queen is obsessed with her own beauty and asks her magic mirror every day who is the fairest of all. Eventually the mirror answered that Snow White and not the queen was the fairest of all. Jealousy drove the queen to wish her Snow White dead, and she commanded the huntsman to take Snow White to the forest and kill her. She even wanted her lungs and liver as proof (though in other stories this is the heart.) The huntsman however cannot kill her and instead kills a large boar to provide proof to the queen.
Snow White runs into the forest and discovers a small cottage and the Seven Dwarfs inside. After the dwarfs found her they became mesmerized by her beauty and offered that if she kept the house for them that she could stay there forever. The queen asked her mirror once again and was told that Snow White still lived, and she sought to kill Snow White once again. On the third attempt the queen was successful by killing her with a poison apple. The dwarfs were not certain that she was in fact dead and she was stored in a glass case. Eventually a prince found her and took care of her instead of the dwarfs. One day, one of his servants became angry at her and hit her which dislodged the poison and she came back to life. The two soon married and the queen was captured. At their wedding the queen was forced to dance in flame engulfed shoes until she died.
Powers and Abilities
Other than fairy tale princess style luck, Snow White is a regular human. She is famous for her beauty. In certain versions of the character she is also a capable fighter.
As a Brothers Grimm character and thus in the public domain, Snow White is open to interpretation from any and all that wish to, but as her traditionally famous likeness is controlled by the Walt Disney Corporation, the use of the character is done with concern over Disney's rights. Thus while the character is open to use, the traditional story is often left to Disney while modernized version occasionally show up. She does appear outside of her continuity in a fair amount of Disney animation, though only her original story remains canon. With that fact withstanding, the character's story is nonetheless a quite popular one in popular culture, and the simplicity of the story is often used as the basis for other stories, or at least parts thereof. Quite often if only one thing is referenced from the story is is the glass coffin.
The Disney version of the story contains many of the same elements except that Snow White is not the daughter of the queen, she is awoken by a kiss from the prince and the queen’s death is different. As well in the Disney version the relationship with the Seven Dwarfs is greatly expanded upon as they are all named and develop friendships with Snow White.
Grimm Fairy Tales Version
In the Grimm Fairy Tales version, the story of Snow White is told as an analogy to Munchausen syndrome by proxy. It is similar to the original, except in this context as it describes a modern woman that poisons her step-daughter. This version also maintain the common portrayal of female characters within the Grimm Fairy Tales stories as the character are shown in suggestive depictions on the cover (cleavage, short skirts, high heels) whereas the interior of the issue deals with more mature subject matter and often with strong female characters that have their own internal struggles.
In Grimm Fairy Tales Sela at one point takes on the role of Snow White to explore her past with her sister as she battles against the evil influence of Belinda. Grimm Fairy Tales is well known for its habit of copying from fairy tales yet giving the main character the opposite gender. Thus after the assault on Myst by the armies of the Dark One, Sela set out on an adventure which had some very tenuous links to Snow White. Her clothing resembled Snow White, and the man she was trying to free, Prince Erik, was kept in a glass coffin as his soul was trapped in limbo. As with many other versions of the story, only certain similarities were maintained while others were ignored.
Other Versions or References
In the JLA story Queen of Fables, Wonder Woman takes on the role of Snow White temporarily. This version of the story is more in line with the Disney version as to be freed from her magical sleep she requires the kiss of a prince (in this case by Aquaman, as he is a king and therefore was presumably once a prince.) In this case the Justice League of America is trapped inside a magical book where its denizens tell them of the actions of Lady White to stop the evil queen. In the end the Justice League return to Earth and are forced to battle a number of characters from legend (including Paul Bunyan). In the end they convince the Queen of Fables that she will be more powerful and enjoy prosperity better back in her book. The Flash is successful is switching the books though and she gets trapped in a book of legal procedures.
In 2012 a movie was released starring Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron in which Stewart plays the princess character, but in an updated version much more focused on action and the individual strength of the character. The movie performed strongly at the box office, and in such a case this generally has an affect on the public perception of the character.
In issue #4 of the cult classic series Alien Worlds, a young woman crash lands on a remote planet. After foraging for food she reveals to her robot companion that life would be much easier if she could just stay there and not have to return to training at the academy (she is afraid that they will mock her for causing the crash. She says instead how nice it would be to live her life on the asteroid as Snow White did (focusing more on Snow White's past as a princess and not the actual story.) Soon after a series of events transpire to the character which mirror the life of Snow White.
In issues #637 and #638 of Archie, the gang is transported to a magical kingdom where they replace the versions of the fairy tales characters. Veronica Lodge becomes Snow White. Uncharacteristically in this versions she has a pet unicorn, though she is seen to be in the company of the Seven Dwarfs (though they seem to be juveniles and not actual dwarfs.)