Sunday, 26 April 2015

Rat Queens Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Rat Queens Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery written by Kurtis J. Wiebe and illustrated by Roc Upchurch is a new-to-me comic I picked up on a whim a few weeks ago. It's a fantasy series rather than superhero or science fiction and it didn't grab me as much as other comics have.

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 god's creatures for profit.

It's also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen 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 blurb describes the idea pretty well. I've also heard it described as "Dungeons and Dragons meets Sex and the City" which is not entirely inaccurate. The titular characters are a band of all-female mercenaries of various races (elf, dwarf, not sure) who periodically go off on quests and spend their down-time drinking heavily. There are also other bands of mercenaries, like a group who are all called Dave, but they're not the main characters and only appear occasionally.

The general plot idea over the course of this volume is that the Rat Queens (and other mercenary bands) get sent on quests, all of which go horribly wrong and smell of conspiracy. Most of the action centres around fighting, almost dying, getting drunk and high to celebrate not dying, and talking about having sex. The violence is drawn in a slightly splatterpunk way (well, OK, this isn't horror, but I wanted to use that word), with lots of literal blood splattering all over the place.

I wasn't particularly taken with the art style, partly on just a personal level and partly because it was a bit more boring than, say, the art in Ms Marvel which had a lot of little funny details in the background. (And to avoid confusion, the cover art above is by Fiona Staples, a different artist to the internal art.) I've heard that the artist changes somewhere in Volume 2 (I believe from issue #9 onwards) so I'm willing to give it another shot before deciding whether to stick with it. Hopefully I'll also become more invested in the story.

I didn't hate Rat Queens Volume 1, but it didn't grab me as much as I was hoping either. If you're a fan of D&D and sarcastic female characters who also kick literal butt, then I would definitely consider giving it a try.

4 / 5 stars

First published: 2014, Image Comics
Series: Rat Queens, on going series, Volume 1 including issues #1–5
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Purchased in a comic book store

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