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Review – Rat Queens Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth

Rat Queens Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth

by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Stjepan Šejić

Rat Queens Vol 2

This booze-soaked second volume of RAT QUEENS reveals a growing menace within the very walls of Palisade. And while Dee may have run from her past, the bloated, blood-feasting sky god N’rygoth never really lets his children stray too far.

Collects RAT QUEENS #6-10

I should probably do a short recap for folks not familiar with Rat Queens. It’s an American comic book detailing the adventures, in the Dungeons and Dragons sense, of four foul mouthed heroines. Hannah’s more or less an elf mage; Dee’s a human cleric; Violet’s a dwarf warrior; and Betty’s an hilarious take on the halfling thief. We reviewed volume one after our friends compelled us to read it.

Between the last volume and this one, Rat Queens won a GLAAD Media award for Outstanding Comic Book and was nominated for a Hugo Award. It’s also being developed for television. This new volume made the New York Times Bestseller list. That might help explain why it’s sold out on Amazon of all places as I write this.

The Dinglehopper was fortunate to receive a copy, but the new addition to our family delayed our review. This second arc is framed by the incursion of cthonic horrors from Dee’s hometown and provides some background on threMyconid Monster Manuale of the Queens. Unlike a lot of paint by numbers origin stories, though, these glimpses into the past reverberate with relationships already established in the first volume and encourage further interest.

It’s not all trips down memory lane. though. There’s plenty of the intertextual referencing fans have come to love. For example, there’s a pitched battle with myconids straight out of the Monster Manual.

Dee’s story is filled out mostly in the present. We already knew she’d left her family and her cult, or religion, or whatever depending on whom you ask. But N’Rygoth has come to Palisade and so has another figure out of her past. Like almost everything in Rat Queens, this is something of a trope subversion. Typically, Dee’s past would come back to haunt her. And in a literal way, it does. However, Dee’s too much her own woman for that to shake her.

You’re here with me now. Just… Don’t be afraid.

We learn a more about Hannah and Violet through flashbacks woven into the narrative with a little memorable magic. Violet’s story is the rebellious girl misunderstood by her family and her society. You know, the one where the girl dons the mask and proves she’s every bit as good as the boys? Not here. She does find her inspiration, though; and we learn why she named the party.

Don’t you know your mythology, girl? Rats are harbingers of impending destruction.

And there’s a touching moment between mother and daughter that just… here.

Violet

Issue eight was the last drawn by former artist Roc Upchurch. He was replaced after an arrest on a domestic violence charge. You can read writer Kurtis J. Wiebe’s statement here.

I am committed to Rat Queens, to stand by what it has always been praised for and to prove to the fans that they weren’t wrong in loving it.

Artist Stjepan Šejić took Hannah and Tizzieover with issue nine. For longtime fans and binge readers both, the shift is a little jarring. The cartoonish gaiety of the first volume gives way to more realistic portrayals and a greater panel depth. It’s a perfect fit as Hannah’s backstory is, predictably, grittier and edgier than the rest. We learn why she’s angry, but also why she’s loyal. We see her first meeting with Tizzie and we get to see them work together when the chips are down. And we learn why she wears her hair that way.

I’m just gonna gush. I love the new art. There’s an incredible range of expression that tells the story as much as the dialogue. The stuff happening behind the focal characters is as or more entertaining than what’s up front. It’s clear, obvious, and in character. Plus, it’s hard to go wrong when you pull a lightning storm right out of a video game.

Rat Queens has weathered the transition. Šejić’s art is perfect for the series and Wiebe’s storytelling is as compelling as ever. The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth is a solid entry that once again leaves the reader wanting more.

Recommended for fans of Bitch Planet, Dungeons & Dragons, and Mean Girls.


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The Evolution of Film Noir: A Video Essay

LangMIt turns out that WordPress has a coding disagreement with certain iframe embedded videos. Because of this, I invite you to follow the link to watch the video Drew Morton has newly released the penultimate installment of his encyclopediac introduction to Film Noir as a genre.

Watch: How Did Film Noir Evolve?

This video is a doozy, introducing a key genre concept of evolution. The four phases of the genre could apply widely, but of course Morton offers them as a way to understand how the characteristics of Film Noir came together, coalesced, and got all self-reflexive.

bladerunner-still1-lgThe phases:

  1. Experimental: Conventions are tested and shared.
  2. Classical: Conventions are stable and clear.
  3. Refinement: Variations are added to the conventions.
  4. Baroque: The genre becomes self-conscious and self-reflexive.

Morton points out that the source material for early Noir came from German Expressionism and crime melodrama among other sources, that this became a thing unto itself in the 40’s, but that by the 50’s and 60’s rolled around, movements like French New Wave were already adding variation and self-reflexiveness to the genre. By the time we get to more contemporary examples–Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang comes to my mind–Film Noir shows itself as a genre through the ease at which it can be parodied and self-consciously flexed and adapted.


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Star Wars Saturday: Earthling Cinema on Eps. IV and V

hanged manI’ve posted about Earthling Cinema’s funny and insightful short videos mock-analyzing films before, but recently they took on Star Wars: A New Hope and followed it up with their own sequel looking at The Empire Strikes Back. The results are pretty fantastic.

As one would expect from this series, they mix together some good-natured mockery of the films with some true insights about the philosophies, motifs, and themes of the films. For instance, Earthling Cinema taught me something new about Empire–that Luke hangs upside down three times in the film, each time using the Force, equating him with the tarot card The Hanged Man.

Also connections to Joseph Campbell, Akira Kurosawa, Taoism, fascism, and Carl Jung.

Entertain and edify yourself simultaneously!


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The Dinglehopper Goes on a Short Hiatus

Michael and I, aka The Dinglehopper, are about to welcome into our family a new baby. In the interest of lowering responsibilities not related to the care of a newborn and toddler simultaneously, we will be taking a week off to find our feet and new normal. We thank you for allowing us this time for ourselves and hope you’ll rejoin us for next week’s Star Wars Saturday.


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Star Wars Saturday: Princess Leia’s Disney Welcoming Ceremony

This isn’t the first time this idea has been done–the Disney Princesses welcoming into their ranks Princess Leia of the newly acquired Star Wars franchise–but it may be the best to date.

cinderella leia

Girl Pants Productions gives us Leia’s welcoming as a princess tea party. Everyone’s there, although it doesn’t take long to see how the cliques have formed–the Classics, the Minorities, the Newbies. Leia doesn’t fit in, of course, and the comedy of the short derives largely from her rougher edges and less song-oriented ways.

Enjoy!

 


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Frozen Friday: Little Big Arendelle

Frozen Little Big Planet

This is breaking news, but it was news to me. We used to be avid, even hardcore, gamers. Like, we’d spend time between progression raids enjoying console titles. At the recommendation of some good friends, we checked out Little Big Planet and had a lot of fun. Like a lot of folks, we were enthralled by the costuming content as much as the gameplay.

So when I saw that Sony and Disney had released a Frozen-themed pack for Little Big Planet 3, I felt a tug on my heart. We’re calling this a hiatus. The period where our toddler’s motor skills and attention span develop to the point where we can all sit down and play together.

The character costumes – Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Sven – can be purchased separately or together with a bonus Olaf costume. So get that one. The Winter Creator Kit that allows you to recreate your favorite locations in Arendelle is a free download.

Frozen LBP shot

 


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It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. It’s not a man. It’s Supergirl.

Supergirl

First things first. Television isn’t the same without Kyrptonians. It’s nice to have them back. Second, this is awesome.

I didn’t want to talk about trailers two days in a row. I had nice book review all lined up. Original research, academic rigor, violent German feminism. But the last one was a movie; this one’s television. And it feels more like an intervention.

Listen, internet. I love you but we need to talk. It’s okay to like things. It’s even okay to like problematic things. I thought we’d talked about this. Check out the first look trailer for CBS’s Supergirl.

Are there a lot of clichés? Yes. Yes there are. Superman codified or created nearly twenty storytelling conventions all on its own. Including the super hero. Television’s an ideal place to work a little bit of reconstruction magic.

When Kara Zor-El bumps into somebody on the street, they’re using a romantic comedy trope to deliver Melissa Benoist’s Clark Kent. I’ve watched a lot of Superman on TV. She embodies the character like nobody since Christopher Reeve.

There’s a lot to love in those six minutes. Nerds get a glimpse of Toyman and Cyborg Superman. Calista Flockhart’s takes a turn as Perry White via The Devil Wears Prada.

And the opening sequence is a direct homage to perhaps the most iconic version of the origin story: All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely:

All Star Superman

This is the Supermangirl I want. Not the blackwashed murderers from the recent films. I don’t want the superficial disposable morality of The Flash. I don’t want the sadistic Daredevil where torture works. This is like sunlight through a stormcloud, hitting all the best beats of Smallville and Superman Returns with a little Greatest American Hero thrown in. It looks fun.

SUPERGIRL is an action-adventure drama based on the DC Comics character Kara Zor-El , Superman’s cousin who, after 12 years of keeping her powers a secret on Earth, decides to finally embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be. Twelve-year-old Kara escaped the doomed planet Krypton with her parents’ help at the same time as the infant Kal-El. Protected and raised on Earth by her foster family, the Danvers, Kara grew up in the shadow of her foster sister, Alex, and learned to conceal the phenomenal powers she shares with her famous cousin in order to keep her identity a secret. Years later at 24, Kara lives in National City assisting media mogul and fierce taskmaster Cat Grant, who just hired the Daily Planet’s former photographer, James Olsen, as her new art director. However, Kara’s days of keeping her talents a secret are over when Hank Henshaw, head of a super-secret agency where her sister also works, enlists her to help them protect the citizens of National City from sinister threats. Though Kara will need to find a way to manage her newfound empowerment with her very human relationships, her heart soars as she takes to the skies as Supergirl to fight crime.

Supergirl Flying

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