If there was ever a doubt about just how fleshed out the world of Rat Queens really was, look no further than this issue. Braga really popped off in issue four of the big battle of the first arc, but I’ll be honest… I kind of forgot about her. Kurtis J. Wiebe didn’t, in fact he wrote an entire history for the character which is basically what this issue is. To be honest, it’s nothing new. The storyline is basically “son doesn’t want to take over the role of leader.” What is different is the motivation of why. Broog, who if you can’t figure out is Braga, doesn’t want to be chief if he can't have a fresh start for his people. Obviously some shit goes down after Broog turns his back on the tribe and eventually is labeled “The Bastard.”
If you remember from issue four, the trolls saw Braga and one of them called her “The Bastard.” Two and two equals four and Braga is a transgender if you just haven’t gotten that through your head yet and it’s great. Wiebe handles it subtly and adds depth to this character that really popped with the crowd for a few pages and then shacked up with a Dave. She could have easily been just that, but Wiebe created this tragic past for her and alluded to a possible future. For that reason it elevates the story past the typical “I don’t want the throne” storyline that it uses for its outline.
Jumping on the issue is Tess Fowler for the art. Now her style is nothing like Roc Upchurch’s style, but it does match the story. Her thick linework and details match the gritty and bloody style of the orcs. Her battles were particular enjoyable as they were just gruesome enough, but never going too overboard. In particular Fowler’s facial expressions ring true; in battle, in conversation and especially when tragedy hits.
If you’re a causal fan of Rat Queens you may not dig this issue because it’s missing the lead characters, but if like most of the readers you enjoy the world that they live in as much as you enjoy them… then this issue will be a great fill-in for the main series.
At the end of the issue a new artist is revealed for the main series, but you’ll have to check the site for that bit of news. It’s interesting, but also a bit sad that Upchurch won’t be returning. As for this issue though, it really goes to show that the world is solid enough not to rely on one artist which is the true test for any property.
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe Artist: Tess Fowler Publisher: Image/Shadowline Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 1/14/15 Format: One-Shot; Print/Digital