Review: Rat Queens #1

I for one have been waiting eagerly for this series and after all the teasing and hype I was not disappointed. The thing that stood out to me the most was Wiebe’s range as a writer and that’s not to say that Upchurch doesn’t bring his fantastic style and flair to the series, but this book is different in tone and structure than anything I’ve read from him Wiebe before. I think Shadowline is going to be very happy that they picked up this series and I can’t wait to see it become the new go to title for people wanting to get into reading comics. Rat Queens stars four female leads, each with their own personality and abilities. I’m not going to go through and break down each of the characters again as we’ve covered it on the site previously, but I will say that Dee and Betty were hands down my favorite characters. Not that I didn’t like Hannah and Violet, but Betty was too fucking funny and Dee was just cool.

The story does kind of center around them, but in a way it’s also about their town and society that they’re a part of. After a town meeting it becomes clear that the different groups of adventurers have become a bigger problem to the town of Palisade than the bandits and monsters. After a huge bar brawl they’re given quests to avoid dungeon time. We’re introduced to the different groups, but more importantly we meet the Rat Queens. They’re given the task of clearing goblins out of Hindman Cave. Hannah complains to Sawyer the man handing out the quests and he basically tells her the same bit of info, that they’re more trouble than their worth and he can’t go to bat for them anymore. That said the ladies grab their shit and head up the mountain.

rat-queens-01-covAThis book is hilarious and it all boils down to the characters. They’re four women, four honest to god women and maybe that means shit coming from a dude, but I’m saying it anyways. What typical happens in a comic with more than a few female characters is that they all begin talking the same and are forced to rely on stereotypes at all times so that you remember it’s not the same character. A great example of this is Danger Girl, there’s a reason they didn’t name the book “Danger Girls.” Here the four women have personality types and even different ways of talking about the same subject matter. It’s some damn fine writing from Wiebe who described the series as Lord of the Rings meets Girls the TV show. I think he nailed it.

My absolute favorite thing about Vescell was the art and so when Roc Upchurch was attached to this book it was an instant buy for me regardless. Vescell isn’t the most amazing tale and often times I’ve been left completely confused by the story, but Upchurch’s art is always worth the price of admission. His characters are very realistic in their designs, body shape, body language and expressions. He’s the full package as he delivers amazingly detailed settings and creates a world that comes across as a living breathing character of its own. A great example of how realistic the characters are is the scene with Hannah and Tizzie of the Peaches. It’s funny, realistic and just gorgeous to look at. The most important thing that Upchurch’s visuals convey to the reader is the comedy. He 100% controls the comedic timing of the story and characters and he’s brilliant at it. Just having funny dialog doesn’t mean that it translates to the visuals and that’s something I see writers and artists struggle with all the time. You need someone of Upchruch’s skills to bring the comedy out of the dialog so that it works. A perfect and simple example of this is on the last page so check that out since I’m not going to be that guy and tell you what it is.

I’m glad that I finally got to read the first issue and now I’m pumped for the second. There’s been enough promotional material for the series that anyone paying attention should know what to expect from the characters, but even then you’ll get a feel once you dive in. I really do see this as being a great way to get new readers into comics and not just women, though it should definitely appeal to them, but TV fans as well. TV and comics share so many similarities that books like this that find a way to bridge the gap are the perfect entry for a new reader. If you check out this series consider passing it along to a friend, you might be surprised by how quickly they take to it. As for me I’m waiting for next fix of Rat Queens already.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe Artist: Roc Upchurch Publisher: Image and Shadowline Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 9/25/13