Aside from Quantum and Woody, there is no other book that comes to mind, and there could be others, that is funnier or as irreverent as this one. In the former’s case, it is like watching the Three Stooges, or two in that title’s case, while Rat Queens is like watching your own family squabble amongst themselves. They bicker, they fight and complain and they do it not only with themselves but with others as well with plenty of headaches to go around. It is refreshing to see comedy making a comeback with this book helping to lead the way.
The story in this volume deals with a group of adventurers who now do less of that and instead, more drinking, some casual drug use as well as destruction of city property, usually while doing the drinking or the drugs, or both. The mayor and the city guard are sick of it, and so send out the Rat Queens, as their band is known, as well as a number of other groups who also like to cause trouble, to take care of some problems like getting rid of goblins and trolls, cleaning toilets and graveyards and the like. Failure to do so will mean eviction from the city which just so happens to contain the bars they enjoy drinking at. What can any of them do but agree? Unknowingly, all of these tasks are actually traps and when the Rat Queens emerge victorious from theirs, they are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and exact some vengeance.
As previously mentioned the book is quite funny and full of humour of which much is pretty crass and obviously some that is not, or at least not so much. Kurtis J. Wiebe, the writer of Peter Panzerfaust, has really outdone himself on this book, creating something unique with a story that is not only sly but sophisticated. The Four Daves! The Spine Tingler! Gary!! There are certain things in this book that stand out and are just priceless at how simplistic they are and yet how well they work. A gang where every guy is named Dave, is so easy a concept and yet is so effective at eliciting a laugh, if more books could elicit the amusement that this one does, comicdom would be the better for it.
Besides the funny, another feature that makes this tale stand out is having a group of women anchor it as the lead protagonists. They might drink and cuss and fight, and more than likely be terrible role models for kids, but the world can never have enough strong female led books and this is a wonderful addition to the current crop. The Queens are made up of four members named Hannah, Betty, Dee and Violet. Violet is a dwarf who for some reason has left her people and shaved her beard while Dee used to be part of some strange god-worshipping death cult. Hannah is an elven mage who always seems to have just the right spell and Betty is the cutest and possibly most dangerous girl of the bunch. Like the true friends they are, it does not matter how much they argue or bicker or joke around, when things get serious, they always have each other’s backs.
The book, while not short on the laughs also contains its fair share of violence as well. It’s bloody and brutal and so over-the-top at times that it only lends to the mirth that Wiebe’s words inspire. And illustrating it all is Roc Upchurch, transforming that violence and the humour and every other brilliant notion that Wiebe has onto the page. If there was one man who was born to draw some hard-drinking, lady sell-swords with a penchant for destruction of man and property, it is Upchurch. Slick and polished, expressive and exciting, his art is simply amazing to look at.
Elves, dwarves, magic, ogres, goblins, assassins, secrets, bar brawls and a lot more is jam packed into every issue of this book. For a first volume that collects five issues for ten bucks, it is more than a bargain with nothing holding you back from picking it up. Written and drawn perfectly with a tried and true concept packed full of action, intrigue and comedy, Rat Queens is a book that deserves to be selling as much as any title from the Big Two. If volume two is even half as good, it can not come fast enough.
5 out of 5