So it seems to be confession time once again (It’s only Clobberin Time when Ben Grimm or CM Punk says so). This time, I must come clean and admit that I’m not a big fan of fantasy. Well at least not in the DnD/Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones/Dragon Age sense of fantasy. I’ll mess around with a Final Fantasy here or there, or Blizzard’s super addicting Hearthstone, and hell, I even own all 9 issues of Battle Chasers. But traditional fantasy stuff really isn’t my thing, try as I might.
However, I am a fan of comedy, ass-kicking females, and Brian K Vaughn/Fiona Staples’ hit comic Saga. So if someone were to take those elements, and blend them together (on a smoothie kick, sorry) in a Warcraft-esque setting, I’ll pay attention. Especially when the results are as good as the first volume of Rat Queens.
Volume 1 is titled “SASS and SORCERY”, which now is automatically the best sub-genre of fantasy, no one denies this. Jokes aside, it’s a really clever and funny title, and does a really good job of setting one’s expectations for this book. The 4 female leads are great, despite one of them being a dirty, dirty hipster (more of this later, which will lead to unintentional irony). They’re funny, tough as nails, attractive and most importantly believable, even though 3 of them aren’t even being human. Roc Upchurch, an artist who’s work I wasn’t familiar going into this first trade, is great, and really makes me regret not getting into this series sooner. I see a lot of Fiona Staples and Stjepan Sejic in Upchurch’s style, which if there’s any 2 creators you want to be channeling when drawing beautiful destructive ladies, it’s them. It’s a gorgeous looking book, even when it gets extremely violent (and it does, trust me) and Upchurch’s work is that much more impressive once you realize he handles to colors as well.
And while Upchurch was a a new name to me, Kurtis J. Wiebe is not, which was one of the many reasons I was attracted towards this title once the buzz began. I really dug his work on Green Wake a few years ago, and Rat Queens shows how much he’s grown as a writer since. Wisely choosing to skip over old-timey talk, the more modern dialogue talk definitely helped draw me into this fantasy world and it’s cast. The Queens are extremely well-fleshed out, and there are some killer jokes to be had that work even without Upchurch’s slick visuals. And speaking of jokes, there’s 2 in here that are arguably the funniest things I’ve seen in comics for some time. Props to Wiebe and Upchurch for that.
I’m about 400 words in, so it’s probably best that I explain what the premise is. The Rat Queens are 4 young female adventurers; there’s Dee the sole human who happens to be an atheist mage, my personal favorite Violet, the hipster dwarf warrior ( BEHOLD THE IRONY), Rockabilly Elf-mage Hannah and “Baby” Betty, the drug-fueled Hippy Smidgen Thief. This quartet is extremely good at what they do, which includes such activities as getting drunk and destroying parts of their hometown during their down time. Someone in the town is less than pleased with this, and decides the best way to deal with the Queens and their peers to have a bunch of assassins kill them. Needless to say, shenanigans ensue. Violent ones at that!
There was some ridiculously awesome books that dropped via Image in 2013, but Rat Queens may be up there with Sex Criminals in terms of overall quality. If you’re a fan of funny and awesome comics , the $10 for the first volume is more than worth. The series picks up back in May (glad to see another book following the patent Saga format), and you’ll want to be on board with it’s return.