It seems almost patronising to champion writer Kurtis J. Wiebe’s strong depiction of his female leads, but in an industry where so many female characters find themselves relegated to background roles or simply reduced to eye candy, it’s something that most definitely needs to be acknowledged.
The Rat Queens aren’t adhering to any male ideal of what women should be, nor are the characters themselves defined solely by their relationship with (or desire for) a man. These are four characters who exist on their own merits, and whose brilliantly realised (and totally distinct) personalities would each carry more than enough weight for a series of their own.
One of the main redeeming features of this series – on full display here – is its ability to remain funny without being “silly”. Yes, there are laughs and humorous moments galore, including some absolutely fantastic one-liners, but these moments never diminish the motivations and realistic emotions of the characters. The series manages to effortlessly traverse the gulf between serious and light-hearted, keeping a foot planted firmly in each camp.
This issue serves as a perfect example of just what’s so great about this series. We start with the brutal battle from the previous issue still in full swing, with the introduction of the “Four Daves” to the fray only adding to the level of carnage. Artist Roc Upchurch is clearly having an absolute blast with the gruesome, brutal dismemberments being doled out here, but he still manages of retain the sense of charm and emotion in the faces of his character. Not an easy thing when you have people being sliced, diced and eviscerated quite so explicitly.
When the dust has settled, we get a chance to see all the individual personalities of the Queens shine through as they kick back for a little well-earned R&R and vow to “drink until they puke fun”. Each of the Queens get their own moments to shine here, and in these moments, we find ourselves learning a huge amount about all four of them.
The ongoing storyline is pushed forwards as well, urging the reader on to want to find out what happens next, and managing to tie all these decapitations, innuendos and sweet character moments together beautifully.
Simply put, if you’re not reading Rat Queens right now, you’re doing it wrong. A fantastically original title that has developed an astounding cult following after just five issues. Drama, humour, gore, sex-based jokes? What more could you possibly want from a comic? Buy Rat Queens. Now. You owe it to yourself.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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