by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch (2014)
Review by Stacia Oparowski
I’m going to tell you right off that I reserved this comic because I thought it was going to be about rats. I hadn’t heard anything about it, though I should have, and figured that a comic book about anthropomorphic rats might be fun. I was surprised, then, (looking at the cover) in a very good way. The “rat queens” are four b.a. lady warriors-for-hire: Violet, Hannah, Dee, and Betty. They each have their own distinct personality, and their own body shape. The comic is gaining praise from critics for its portrayal of women with real body types, among other things. They aren’t scantily-clad super-heroines existing only for the benefit of their superhero counterparts. They have emotions, love lives, strengths, and weaknesses.
Violet can’t cook. Betty only likes to eat candy and “magic” mushrooms. Hannah likes to pick fights. Dee has social anxiety.
The comic begins with the Rat Queens in a dungeon. They’re being held there because the Mayor of their town thinks that their parties (a.k.a. drunken brawls) have gotten way out of hand. They used to protect the area, and now they’re causing most of the problems. In order to be relieved of their dungeon sentence, they must complete a quest. What seems to be a routine goblin-exterminating mission turns into a battle with a shadowy assassin.
Later, after securing the safety of their rival warrior groups who were also on quests, they begin to wonder if the Mayor sent them all out to be killed. Instead of going to see if that is the case right away, they decide they need some heavy drinks and a night out. Hanna starts trouble by impersonating the town warden, Sawyer, and ends up in the dungeons again. She talks to the REAL Sawyer and discovers the Mayor hadn’t hired any assassins. With the mayor out of the picture, the queens begin to look deeper at who they may have p. o’d.
They investigate the merchant’s guild next, and something sounds fishy there. The queens
decide to have a beer and mull it over. Betty sneaks into the merchant’s guild leader’s office and what she finds triggers a massive attack on the city. When the fighting’s over the ladies throw a huge party, but Dee (who’s not into partying … social anxiety, you know?) delves deeper into the merchant guild leader’s plans.
And that’s where it leaves you, hungry for more (or should I say thirsty). This comic is everything I ever wanted: it’s dark, funny, violent, has great character development, and the art is fantastic. Did I mention it’s in full color? Also, these girls have rad style that’s still practical for fighting dragons and demons and beasts (and each other, and everyone).
Published by Image Comics (The Walking Dead, Saga), this series is already going to be one of my favorites. This was a collected edition of issues 1-5, but #6 and #7 are out now with more to come in September!
Kurtis J. Wiebe is a Vancouver, Canada based author who has also written video games, screenplays, and novels. He is also the recipient of the Outstanding Comic Book Writer Shuster Award. Look for a Rat Queens TV show soon, too!
Roc Upchurch began his career as a video game concept artist but branched out to, well, everything else. He’s based in Atlanta, GA. Check out his FANTASTIC art here.