By Patrick Wolf
While not perfect, Rat Queens Special: Orc Dave #1 is a fun read and a must-have for any fan of the Rat Queens universe. Dave the Orc is a warm character and will certainly have you rooting for him by page one. I’d recommend this one-shot to anyone looking for great art, high-fantasy, and loveable characters.
Special Orc Dave is set in the Rat Queens universe and follows Dave the Orc and his father as they head off for a sacred ritual. Their journey, unfortunately, takes an unexpected turn when they discover the corpse of a murdered deer. Now, Dave and his father must pursue the creature responsible for the slaying before it strikes again. But what they discover won’t be what they expected. Will Dave follow in his father’s footsteps and take the practical action or will he forge his own path and follow his heart?
I liked this issue. I’ve never read Rat Queens before, so I’m not sure how Dave the Orc reads in that series, but if he’s anything like the guy in this story, I can see why he got his own spin-off. Dave is lazy, funny, brave, strong, and most of all compassionate. Unlike most contemporary superheroes who tend to be stoic and bloodthirsty, Dave would rather pull-a-punch than send-one-off. This is not to say he won’t slam a bad guy if he has too. It’s just he’d rather take the Goku approach and try to make enemies into allies.
As for the artwork, it’s probably the best thing about this series. The cover illustration from Fiona Staples is outstanding, and Dunbar’s penciling is spectacular. In many ways, Dunbar’s style is very similar to Staples’, but it’s richer in detail. Each panel shines with a vibrancy of colors, and the intricacy makes you feel like you’re in a fantasy medieval world. If anything, I’d check this one out just for the artwork.
I don’t have much to say for criticism, except that there were some slight dispositional inconsistencies that occurred from time-to-time. Without spoiling too much, we’re told the creature that killed the deer did so maliciously without the need for nourishment. Later, however, we discover the creature was in fact injured and starving and can be tamed with a single act of kindness. This struck me as slightly implausible and disingenuous—especially since it didn’t explain why the starving creature murdered the deer and then didn’t eat it. I know I’m being a bit nit-picky here, and I know this plot hole certainly won’t ruin the story for anyone (if anyone even notices), but it does represent lazy writing, which kind of annoys me, so I’m going to mention it.
With that in mind, Rat Queens Special Orc Dave #1 is still an excellent read, and certainly, should be picked up by any fan of high-concept fantasy. As I said, it’s sweet, and there’s pretty much nothing wrong with it. If you’re a Rat Queens’ fan or just starting the series like me, this one-shot is certainly worth the price tag.
Rat Queens Special: Orc Dave #1
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Max Dunbar
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Micah Myers
Publisher: Image Comics