Release Date: 9/25/13
Words: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Pictures: Roc Upchurch
Image’s own release description of the Rat Queens is enough for me to consider this title for my own personal pull list, it states as follows, “GOLD, GUTS AND GROG,” Part One. Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all gods’ creatures for profit. It’s also a darkly comedic fantasy series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Hobbit Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!” The Rat Queens are assigned a quest in order to keep out of lockup for a night of destruction and debauchery.
I have yet to find a sword and sorcery genre comic that I really like, until now. This one has a couple of things going for it the others I’ve read lack, wit and humor. I get the impression Wiebe knows his fantasy tales and has played enough World of Warcraft with some snarky character types to unleash his playful side on these pages. Also, he had me at the all girl quest party. Dude. I love these girls. Not only do they like to get their party on, they also like to get their destruction on. They are a strong, confident, fearsome group and each character is a gem of her own. The dialogue is excellent and is so engaging that the quest assigned to them became secondary to just wanting to get to know the characters better through their interaction with each other. The writing is solid. I am hard pressed to pick a favorite member of the crew but if I had to it would be between the atheist cleric addressing her old habits from her “cultist” days and the hobbit thief who packs candy and drugs for their adventure and is insistent on ‘shrooming in the woods.
Upchurch’s art is awesome. At a first glance one might think this was the love child of World of Warcraft and Saga artists. It contrasts to the writing well so that it’s enough on the cute and fun side that the content isn’t so heavily taken. It’s a perfect fit for the type of wit and humor that comes through so easily in the words used. A lot of the book’s charm and humor come from how expressive the characters are through facial expression and body posture. Upchurch effortlessly nails this skill, as shown with the expression of stubborn disappointment Betty gives when denied her ‘shroom trip – it is just the cutest thing ever.
Rat Queens is a fantasy read fueled by crude sex jokes, drugs and candy. It may not be for the faint of heart in regards to crude language and humor but I appreciate it and think it’s funny as hell. It is one of the more fun reads I’ve read and I will be adding this one to my pull list. At the risk of dating myself, it reminded me of the good old days on a good night on the mIRC but with cool graphics. Just trust me and give it a try, especially if you are one of those out or closeted MMORPG fans. It’s well worth it.