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‘Rat Queens’ #16 Shows You Can’t Go Home Again

RatQueens_16-CoverRat Queens #16
Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Letters by Ed Brisson
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain

 

WARNING: SPOILERS

Rat Queens #16 brings our Rat Queens (minus Hannah) back home to Palisade, except the town has gone to hell in a handbag. The townies hide as groups of adventurer-mercenaries crowd the Testy Unicorn Inn, waiting for their chance to prove they’re the next big heroes, and getting into drunken brawls in the meantime. The Queens return to a puffed up reputation; they’re now the Heroes of Palisade, and everyone–from the traveling chronicler (not a bard!) to estranged family members–want a piece of them. Kurtis Wiebe presents a raucous romp as the women find that coming home brings no sense of comfort.

This issue gives the series a reset after the deep upheaval of the “Demons” arc. Hannah is absent, tucked away in the Mage U version of the Phantom Zone, and her friends have no idea how to rescue her. The Queens are attempting to move on by returning to Palisades to reconnect (for sex!) with those they left behind and perhaps find new direction. Reunion is the watchword, and the three seek out or are sought by the familiar and unexpected. The relocation of Violet’s brother to Palisade likely inspires the new arc’s title: “When Beards Collide.”

Read the rest of my review at PopOptiq.com.

Palisade

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‘Rat Queens’ #15 Asks Demon or Queen?

RatQueens_15-1Rat Queens #15
Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Letters by Ed Brisson
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Cover by Stjephan Sejic

Rat Queens #15 finishes out the “Demons” arc with revelations and character rebirth, all driven by the question: demon or Queen? At the heart of this is a he said/she said retelling of how Hannah got kicked out of Mage University that ends with miscommunication and missteps. This final issue of the arc slams the reader in the best narrative ways and puts an emotional cap on what has been a stellar arc by Wiebe.

Hannah’s backstory has been at the forefront of the “Demons” arc, with the secondary story belonging to Dee. In both, the characters have grappled with their estranged families. In both, they’ve reunited with a family member and reevaluated the relationship based on the new encounter. And here those two private backstories collide with heavy consequences.

Read the rest of my review on PopOptiq!

RatQueens_15_04


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‘Rat Queens’ #14 Presents Backstory, Dragon Shenanigans

RatQueens_14-cvrRat Queens #14
Written by Kurtis J Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Cover by Stjepan Šejic
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by Ed Brisson
Edits by Laura Tavishati
Published by Image Comics on December 30, 2015

This bravura issue is everything one has come to want and expect from the penultimate entry in a Rat Queens arc. All the pieces are now in place to have a truly climactic finale: backstories and secrets are revealed while new discoveries create ever rising action. The cliff-hanger and cover preview for January’s issue left me tied in knots.

The cover brilliantly presents the metafictional construct of this series. Our four Rat Queens, based on classic D&D character types, sit around an inn table playing a variation of D&D. They display a range of emotions–Hannah livid at a negative turn of events, Dee (here the DeeM–har!) apprehensively waiting to continue the narrative, Betty smiling casually and Violet heartily laughing at Hannah’s outburst. Similarly in the issue’s narrative, Dee and Hannah have the more serious parts while Betty and Violet supply the comic turns.

Read the rest of my review at PopOptiq.com!

http://www.popoptiq.com/rat-queens-14-review/

I don’t normally bother with spoiler warnings, but this is an issue you’ll want to enjoy the surprises of. Read it first.

RatQueens14_Gallery

 


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‘Rat Queens’ #13: Mage U is Candy-Coated with a Danger-Filled Center

RatQueens_13-coverRat Queens #13
Written by Kurtis J Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Cover by Stjepan Šejic
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by Ed Brisson
Published by Image Comics

The “Demons” arc, of which this is part three, has been literally and figuratively exploring the demons tormenting the Rat Queens. The literal demons tear at their flesh. The metaphorical demons of the past tear at their minds and hearts. In part three, Hannah and Dee are reunited with loved ones while Violet and Betty’s R&R time lacks relaxation.

At the end of issue #12, the Rat Queens were nearly frozen in the middle of a wizard-induced snow storm, having just escaped a pack of Hell shades. Well, no worries. A deus ex machina in the form of Polle rescued them and brought them the rest of the way to candy-colored Mage University. The issue mostly offers the Queens a reprieve while also giving them new paths to conflict.

For the rest of the review, jump to PopOptiq.

http://www.popoptiq.com/rat-queens-13-review/

RatQueens13_Gallery


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‘Rat Queens’ #12 Raises Stakes, Tolkien Allusions

RatQueens_12-coverRat Queens #12
Written by Kurtis J Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by Ed Brisson
Published by Image Comics

Kudos to Tess Fowler on her wonderful cover for issue #12, which acts as prelude for the issue with a single bit of apt imagery–Betty, in the place of Bilbo Baggins, stealing candy from a dragon she is unaware of. Similarly, this issue shows our ever confident Rat Queens questing towards Mage University and finding more in the shadows than they are prepared to face. While that sounds rather ominous, the humor remains and is foregrounded in a story of increasing gravitas.

Issue #12 continues the new narrative arc, opening with a drunk Violet adventuring to the potty. Her call to battle–“To the shitter, my Rat Queens!”–encompasses the crude humor Wiebe instills in these warrior women, and part of why they so delightfully break the gender stereotypes of most comics. Returning to her room, she finds the door locked. Kicking it down, she interrupts the attempted assassination of Betty. Violet flexes drunken warrior bravado, but finds her physical prowess somewhat diminished to comical effect–farce employed by a badly aimed dagger and a deadpan reaction of “Balls.” Still, the assassin realizes this isn’t her moment and makes an escape, putting the “ass” back in assassin by gassing our heroes.

My review and recap continues at PopOptiq–Just click through!

http://www.popoptiq.com/rat-queens-12-review/


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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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Review – Rat Queens Volume One: Sass and Sorcery

Elf mage.  Dwarf fighter.  Halfling thief.  Human cleric.  Anything but typical.

First a friend asked me if I’d read it.  Then he recommended it on Goodreads.  Then his partner recommended it to me on Goodreads.  Then they asked me if I had a Comixology account.  Then it was in my inbox.  So I reckoned I oughtta read it.

Then I couldn’t shut up about it, so Erin took my Kindle when she put our toddler to bed.  A little while later she came back down with a huge smile on her face.

“I haven’t had this much fun reading a comic since The Adventures of Barry Ween: Boy Genius.”

Rat Queens is that kind of book.  You want tell your friends.  You want them to read it.  You want to spread the word.  It’s fun!

Writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and artist Roc Upchurch are releasing the book every six weeks in five issue arcs with a two month break in between arcs.  It’s not coming quickly, but it’s worth the wait.  They’ve curated a relationship with their fans via Facebook and other social media in the meantime.

I hadn’t read any descriptions when I opened the book.  The cover also, by Saga artist Fiona Staples, told me pretty much everything I needed to know and that I’d probably like it.  An all female adventuring party?  Count me in.

Wiebe initially described it as “a comic series that follows four lady legends waist deep into rivers of blood in the endless quest for gold, guts and grog,” and “a love letter to my years of D&D.”  But unlike many other female lead comic books, Rat Queens avoids objectifying cheesecake imagery and concentrates on story and character.  This is by design.  Wiebe told Newsrama:

One of those things, in particular, is how Roc is illustrating the women. We have four characters with act four distinct body shapes and sizes. Something you’d see in four unique women in everyday life, and I think that’s important.

The thing is, when we started talking about this series, it was the very idea of doing something in a fantasy universe that had modern ideologies in it. How would a twenty-something man or woman act in that kind of setting. I feel like we’ve seen men represented in that situation so many times, I figured it’d be fun to take a female perspective. Lots of the women I know are hilarious and adventurous so I had a lot to draw from.

And yet, it never feels self conscious.  Neither the all female cast nor the Dungeons & Dragons trappings.  It’s just background for compelling characters with some mass appeal.  Variety reports that it’s already being developed for television.

After working on such films as the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies, Weta Workshop’sPukeko Pictures is pairing up with Heavy Metal to adapt Image Comics’ “Rat Queens” into an animated TV series.

Last week Betty was named #10 in Buzzfeed’s “12 Kick-Ass Gay Women in Comics and Graphic Novels”  Here she demonstrates what you might call brazen subtlety to the Captain of the city guards.

Recommended for anyone who has ever played D&D or WoW, read fantasy, or likes fun.