There is nothing more dangerous than a party of idle adventurers. It’s a lesson the town of Palisade has already learned, which is why they start dolling out quests after the sixth bar brawl of the week. This is the way we’re introduced to the Rat Queens, an all-women adventuring group consisting of Hannah, the elven mage whose mother won’t stop calling her on her channeling stone, Dee, the atheist human cleric who still swears to her former deity out of habit, Violet, the dwarven fighter who can’t come up with a cool saying for the life of her, and Betty, the smidgen (think hobbit or halfling) thief who really likes sex, drugs, and candy.
The Rat Queens are, above all, defined by their actions, and this first issue introduces each of these characters perfectly through their quirks, choices, and reactions. Kurtis J. Wiebe did an amazing job crafting and writing these characters; I was instantly won over and can’t wait to learn more about each of the four leading ladies and see their distinctive traits, like Violet’s penchant for bad sayings and dwarven songs, to come back into play. The focus on what the characters do is perfectly supported by the art of Roc Upchurch. It’s the characters’ expressions, movements, and distinctive styles that fully bring them to life.
Rat Queens #1 is a funny issue. It has a raunchy and referential sense of humor relying on many references to sex and drugs as the punchline for jokes and isn’t above making fun of classic tabletop RPG and video game elements. The lewd jokes were hit or miss with me, and some of them felt a little forced. What had me in stitches from beginning to end is the quirkiness of the Rat Queens world. From the first mention of dwarven beard championships, I was giggling, and by the time the book introduces several other named adventuring parties including the infamous “Four Daves,” I was sold. The book is damn quotable, too. I’d like nothing more than to list my top five quotes of the issue, but it would ruin half the fun for readers who have yet to pick up the issue.
On top of everything else it does right, Rat Queens does action really well. Again, Upchurch’s art is to thank for it as it beautifully showcases the difference in styles among the Rat Queens and doesn’t hold back on the hits. Blood spurts and gaping wounds are common, which makes the fights’ stakes that much higher. Fortunately, the Rat Queens have a great health care plan; they call her Dee.
Oh, and the issue completely holds up for rereads. I was still giggling at all the same points a week later. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go slay some rats in a basement. Apparently, trashing your LCS is not acceptable behavior when hearing you have to wait weeks for Rat Queens #2.
Five Dwarven Beard Championships out of Five!