Rat Queens Volume 4: High Fantasies – Kurtis J. Wiebe

The trouble with any book that follows a world-shattering event is where do you go from here? This volume feels very deflated as we almost go back to square one. Except we can’t because square one got blown up and not all the characters are still around.

But we love our Rat Queens and even if the plot isn’t up to much then just hanging around and laughing at their jokes will do for now. There is a nice old school D&D dungeon crawl that tickles the funny bones of any veterans out there and also a quirky flashback to some of the character’s origins.

Thumbs Up!

Rat Queens Volume 3: Demons – Kurtis J. Wiebe

rat-queens-3This superb volume continues the outrageously high standards of character driven drama. There are some excellent call-backs to previous story points and you get to see just how deep and nuanced this tale really is. The drama is more personal than ‘end of the world’ but that makes it even tenser.

Tess Fowler has taken over art duties and although you can see a softer, more rounded style things hang together. The panels and layout are now more rigid and traditional however. Gone are Upchurch’s frenzied multipage action sequences unfortunately.

The Rat Queens special featuring Braga’s origin story is at the end of this volume and there are several pages of behind the scenes art extras.

Thumbs Up!

Rat Queens Deluxe Edition 1 – Kurtis J. Wiebe

rat-queens-collected-1This is a slightly oversized hardcover that collects the first ten issues and has a couple of extras.

The hardcover is extremely sturdy and opens and lays flat making reading a joy. There is no dust jacket but the silver embossing is very attractive. The art doesn’t really benefit from being 10% larger but the tactile experience is perfect.

Included is the Rat Queens special featuring Braga’s origin story and a couple of single page gags. There are all the covers, including unused ones and a few sketches. Unusually there is no editorial or even a forward. It would have been nice to find out more about the creation of this unusual title.

If you haven’t picked up the first two trades then this is definitely a good way to start reading.

Thumbs Up

Debris – Kurtis J Wiebe

This is an unexpectedly good short story from Rat Queens author Kurtis J Wiebe. At only four issues it isn’t around for long but does manage to tell a pleasing tale and build a sense of place. With echoes of Wasteland and Freakangels this post disaster missive is mostly a dialogue between pairs of characters. It doesn’t degenerate into talking heads and there are a great deal of mute panels for the action.

The art is distinctive with rough lines that perfectly embody a post-disaster future. The colour palette is most reminiscent of Great Pacific.

Thumbs Up!

Rat Queens Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth – Kurtis J. Wiebe

Rat Queens 2With the worldbuilding done in the last volume and by minimising the humour this excellent volume is pretty much all seat-of-the-pants action and drama. The origin stories for some of the characters are inserted in an innovative and unexpected way and you are coming to truly love this amazing bunch of misfits. There are a lot of opportunities for them to develop and reveal the complexities and nuances of their characters.

The art is strong and distinctive but not without niggles. There are a few blank backgrounds early on, which for a digital artist is inexcusable. There is also a good fight scene that is rendered hard to follow by the panel order changing between pages. But the style is very bold with a lot of risk taking in terms of layout and bordering and the characters are adorable.

This definitely cements Rat Queens as a must buy and I can’t wait for the next volume.

Thumbs Up!

Rat Queens Volume One: Sass & Sorcery – Kurtis J. Wiebe

Rat Queens 1If you mixed Sucker Punch with a 12 year old’s D&D campaign – on the interweb – this might be the result.

Actually after a few pages you do click with this all female cast of foul-mouthed fantasy adventurers. It’s fun, bawdy, ballsy and entertaining. This isn’t going for a profound message but sneaks in the idea that women can kick as much arse, drink, swear and do as many drugs as guys do.

The art is good stuff. There is great use of colour on display, dynamic fight scenes, intelligent digital trickery and a lively panel structure. The women are all appropriately proportioned, respectfully dressed and wonderfully diverse.

Initially it feels a little anachronistic with some popculture/ postmodern jokes but these quickly fade as the book takes its stride and becomes all about the characters. This is a five issue volume with rapid pacing so flies by. Make sure you have book two on order.

For the most grounded and intelligent portrayal of female characters in comics this gets the Double Thumbs Up!!