We have not seen an issue of Rat Queens in a few months now and I completely forgot we were right in the middle of a huge battle. Kurtis J. Wiebe uses this to his advantage. The battle is against three giant squid-like monsters. These monsters feed on the energy of displaced reality. What this means is our characters are getting thrown in and out of hallucinations. They are disoriented and confused, not really knowing what is going on. This makes the reader more comfortable about not really remembering what was going on, and actually in a roundabout way the reader can now relate to the characters a bit more. I don’t know if it was this tool of introducing the issue but I felt very connected to Rat Queens this week.
Rat Queens is always good for big laughs and violent battles, however one thing that it is usually missing is the feeling of danger. The Queens are usually engaged in a battle with very serious repercussions, but I have never felt the danger. I have never been worried that they won’t make it out alive. In issue 9 I feel that danger, it finally feels like the city of Palisade is in real trouble, something I didn’t know I wanted, but it elevates the book. I found that the jokes hit harder and the battle scenes sliced deeper because of my worrisome state. It is nice to see all the characters of Palisade banding together to take on a centralized evil.
This issue also marks the first of new artist on the book Stjepan Sejic. Sejic is a diverse talent that works perfectly for this title. He can draw a clean panel when the mood calls for it but he can also draw a rough panel when things aren’t so clean cut, like on the battle field. When a new artist comes on the main concern is that he does not change the characters you have grown to love but here I am very satisfied with Sejic’s rendering of all four Queens. He nails their facial expressions and I can tell he really understand these characters. The only character that has changed appearance slightly is Betty. I can see this raising some concern but personally I think it is for the better. Betty is a cute little character that makes the best jokes in the book. Her jokes are often very sexual and she looks like a little girl, which can sometime feel a little awkward. Sejic has made her look more like an adult, while still keeping her cute and hilarious. This sits better with me and makes me take her a little more serious when it comes time to slice up some bad guys.
Strong issue of Rat Queens. I am glad it is back. Look for Rat Queens to make a little noise in the Image March Madness bracket. It is arguably in the weakest division and might cause a few upsets.
I am not sure exactly when Rat Queens became one of my favorite books but it was somewhere between “Let’s. Get. Stabby!” and “Rat Queens! Put the sexy back in wholesale slaughter!” When there are 329 books coming out each week (numbers ending in 9 are always made up, comic book math returns!) and 89% of my pull list requires profound thinking it is nice to open up a book that immediately plasters a smile on my face and holds that smile strong for all 25 pages. After reading issue #1 I was not blown away but the idea of the book was enough to warrant at least a couple pulls. Slowly with each issue I noticed I was enjoying myself more and more (makes sense, it IS a fantasy book). Then last week issue #4 hit me in the face like a dodge ball thrown by the 7th grader Justin who was just taking the frustration of his parents divorce out on the meek little 5th grader with an aptitude for math. The impact the book delivered knocked my glasses clear off my face, so I gathered myself put my glasses back on and proclaimed “by N’rygroth’s ballsack this book is fantastic!”
Rat Queens is one of my favourite books. I love Rat Queens. This week we are delived a little spin off from Rat Queens as we take a closer look into one of the bit character’s past. The character is Braga, which is a vicious orc who seems to be a great asset to the Queens when it comes to battles. If you read Rat Queens then you are most likely a fan of Braga and enjoy the scenes she is in.
This issue gives the background of how Braga was suppose to take over as leader of the orcs but refused because of her disagreement of her fathers wishes to rule. Braga wants peace, Braga wants to fight that orc desire inside her to tear apart any enemy that moves. The issue has epic battles, a brother’s betrayal and moving moments. It is written well, the art is good, it is a neat little story. But why does it exist? I don’t mind the idea of a bunch of spinoffs about the bit characters of Rat Queens but this feels forced. Braga so far has been the orc who tears things up on the battle field. I don’t really want to know Braga’s past. I kind of like assuming that she has been through a lot and is ready to just get all that anger of the past out on the battle field. I think it is easier to relate to a character like Braga when we didn’t know what she had been through. At some point in time something happened that numbed her. Now that I know the specific details I relate less than before. I would have been happier with just a regular issue of Rat Queens this week.
Again this is a well written issue, for a series that I love. I just did not need this issue.
SUPERMAN #23.4 (PARASITE): This ranks up there as one of the best Villains Months issues yet – and who would have figured that artist Arron Kuder, whose work I’ve always enjoyed and championed in past reviews, could also deliver a solid script and put other Villains Months writers to shame (I mean have you read Joker’s Daughter by Ann Nocenti? Holy mother of god that may go down has the worst reviewed comic in the history of comics). Kuder makes the most of his first time out as a writer and gives us solid characterization of Joshua Michael Allan, a bike messenger that has had enough of living in Metropolis. Being attacked by “the monster of the week” is just one of the many incidents in Allen’s life that causes him to hit bottom and seek cash from being a medical experiment. And yeah, you guessed it, the experiment doesn’t go so well. Favorite moment of the issue: I picked in for my Freeze Frame of the week, the moment after Joshua becomes Parasite and looks at himself in the mirror for the first time. Damn good stuff here. WRITING: GOOD / ART: EXCELLENT
In the past I have praised Rat Queens ambitious humor and bloody fantasy battles. Issue #5 brings all of this and more. It turns out this book also has heart. We pick up the issue right in the middle of a huge battle. Early in the issue one of the queens takes a fairly substantial wound. This sets off the ring leader Hannah and we get a terrific sequence of her eyes changing from light to darkness. Hannah’s anger leads to 5 pages of a bloody rampage. In a fantasy battle sense these are easily the best 5 pages in the series. This is exactly what I wanted from Rat Queens when I first read the solicitation of issue #1. Chicks kicking the shit out of orcs.
You must be confused where the heart part comes in, I’m getting there. Right before the staples (centerfold) of the book there is a terrific scene of all the queens at the wounded queens bedside chatting about her fate and about revenge. What is said in this scene shows the reader just how different these girls are. It makes you wonder for a second why they are such good friends, then you realize they are all united by their love for each other. What else is there that holds friendships together then the love you have for each other. This short two page scene had emotion in it but also a few cute jokes to keep the mood light.
This is the last issue in the up coming trade so after a big battle there is obviously an even bigger party. The last third of the book we just get to have a great time with the characters. Then again the book surprises me. We get a flashback scene of Dee, the atheist, leaving her parents home and getting away from religion to figure out the world on her own. I read this page 5 times. It spoke very deeply to me, as a child who grew up in a very religious home I had a flashback to having this very conversation with my parents. There are some things Dee says that I know I have said myself and others I wish I was insightful enough to say. The first line below was my go to for many years and the second I wish I had tattooed. Terrific last chapter to the trade, a must buy in my opinion.
“How can I know what’s true when it’s the only thing I’ve ever known?” – Dee
“Doubt isn’t weakness in faith, it’s wisdom in spite of it.” – Dee