Rat Queens Vol. 2 catches up with our main ladies right where issue five left off. Featuring backstory, romance, action, humor, sorcery, a sizeable amount of blood, and a splash of booze. It’s everything you loved about the first arc, and then some. We left off with some serious shenanigans. The Rat Queens are celebrating, which means a lot of booze, a lot of drugs, and plenty of hook-ups. Vol. 2 picks up with the morning after: three of our girls wake up with someone in their bed. Betty and Faeyri seem to be continuing their courtship, Violet and Orc Dave are just getting started, and Hannah has accidentally found herself drawn to Sawyer once again. She blames it on being inebriated, but we later learn more about their fling; it didn’t end on great terms, and though Hannah insisted she wanted something casual, she took their break-up pretty hard. It’s something of a theme throughout this series: Hannah claims to be a stone cold bitch, but she loves pretty fiercely.
Sawyer gets a clue as to the missing Bernadette’s whereabouts and goes off to find her. It’s a trap, and it works. Sawyer is responsible for the brutal death of Gerrig Lake’s beloved, so now he’s got to suffer, and all of Palisade is going to suffer with him. Gerrig has a “ceremonial death mask” that he uses to summon massive sky-squid creatures from the abyss; they not only wreak havoc on the city, but are also able to mess with memory. In the end, it’s Dee who saves the day by taking on the mask herself and taking control.
We get some glimpses of backstory throughout. We see Violet’s decision to shave her beard and Hannah growing up as an outcast, plus Dee’s husband shows up early on. We learn there’s a bit more to our girls than just booze and battle- although those rough bits do make up a lot of their character. We learn more about Sawyer and about his relationship with Hannah. And we get some action from Sawyer’s second in command, Lola. She’s got an incredible fight scene, where, outnumbered and ambushed, she brutally and seamlessly kicks ass. I fell in love a little bit. Plus there’s Gary, the punching bag of the series, whose introduction back in the first arc- “shut the fuck up, Gary”- pretty much sums him up.
Rat Queens Vol. 2 is just as bloody and action-packed as our first arc, though slightly less booze-filled. Palisade faces certain doom, which doesn’t leave much time for partying. If you haven’t picked up Rat Queens by now… well, it’s way past due, but better late than never and so on. The art- from both artists- is beautiful and dynamic, and the action sequences flow smoothly and draw you in.
Wiebe does a wonderful job balancing the humor and the drama, peppering in some great one-liners throughout the action. The characters are real and relatable, funny, endearing, and complex. There is a full, lively cast that makes the story intricately detailed rather than busy. New characters are smoothly introduced, and all the interactions flow realistically. Of course, our Rat Queens are at the center of this story, but the minor characters don’t feel unimportant. Wiebe’s characters are some of the best written, to the point where they could be a standalone. I could read an entire series of these folks at a knitting circle- or like, what’s the opposite of battle? Baking?- and I would be cheering them on.
That’s not to say the storylines aren’t noteworthy. The characters are absolutely a high point in this series, but the story is also fantastic. There’s so much involved here, but it never gets overwhelming or busy. The story picks you up and drops you right in, and it’s easy to just go right along; it’s putting this book down that’s the trick.
I’m just going to hammer the point home: I love this comic. This is one of those books I aggressively shove at my friends until they agree to read them; if I’m going down, I’m taking everyone with me. The first arc was a wild ride, widely praised, and a tough act to follow. But Rat Queens has managed to maintain its unique voice, its particular brand of humor and action, while further fleshing out our already well-developed main characters and adding to the ensemble.
Rat Queens Vol. 2 collects issues six through ten. If you haven’t been reading Rat Queens, it’s time to catch up.
Rat Queens Vol. 2 - "The Far ReachingTentacles Of N’Rygoth" Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe Artists: Stjepan Sejic, Roc Upchurch Publisher: Image Comics Price: $14.99 Release Date: 5/6/15 Format: Trade Paperback; Print/Digital