Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Tess Fowler
Release Date: 14th January, 2015
Having no previous experience of the Rat Queens universe, I have to admit, this one-shot issue initially had me pretty confused. As it turns out, the focus of this character special, Braga, is actually a transgender orc, something I only came to realise a few pages in. Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this element of the character’s make-up would be the main focus of the story, but in actuality, it’s the complete lack of any information regarding this point that makes this such a bold and highly commendable comic.
Opening on an almost comical ‘morning-after-the-night-before’ sequence, we meet Braga in all of her buxom, barely clothed glory, who begins to sombrely recount a past which has clearly caused her pain. As Broog, she was a leader on the battlefield and next in line to be Chieftain, but ultimately, she was living a lie, something her father alludes to as a typical orcish trait. Burdened by the expectations of her forebears she decides to forge her own path; a decision which has an almost immediate and devastating impact on her life.
The issue of Braga’s gender is treated as it should be, as a matter of simple fact, and is only really touched upon in the first and last pages of the book through the artwork of Tess Fowler, who does a fantastic job of showing both phases of Bragas’ life; from the highly sexualised creature of the issue’s beginning and end, to the fearsome orcish warrior revelling in the glory of brutal, bloody combat. There is something about the way character is drawn in the flashback that allows the reader to engage with her on a deeper emotional level, something which struck me more on the second read through.
Writer Kurtis J. Wiebe has unflinchingly broached a sensitive subject without resorting to fanfare or sensationalism, and given us one of the first, if not the first, transgender characters in comics. There are many who could take a leaf from his book with regard to handling such a ground-breaking move.