Article by, Mariah Senecal
Rat Queens vol. 1
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Roc Upchurch
There is a special place in my heart reserved for Rat Queens. This series, which began in September of 2013, was the very first comic book series I read and instantly fell in love with. I patiently (debateable) waited for each issue to come out and despite a few publishing delays I have faithfully followed the series over the past few years. Rat Queens has been nominated for several awards including the Eisner award and the Hugo award, and in 2015 it won the GLAAD media award for their inclusion and portrayal of LGBT characters. So not only was this comic received well by me, but apparently a whole bunch of other people liked it as well! Rat Queens is Kurtis J. Wiebe’s (Green Wake, Intrepids) brainchild, and the artistic credit for volume one go to Roc Upchurch (Vescell).
Rat Queens is an ongoing story following an all female adventuring party in a medieval fantasy setting. These ladies love causing trouble more than remedying it and their idea of a good time is getting hammered and wreaking havoc on their town (which often leads to them spending the night in prison). The first arc of this story introduces us to: Betty, a halfling with a taste for drugs, sex, and candy, Violet, a dwarven warrior who shaved her beard and ran away from home to search for meaning in her life, Hannah, an elven mage with dark magic and a darker past, and Dee, an atheist human cleric who was raised by cultists. These ladies, despite their heroic efforts, have attracted the attention of several enemies and spend most of this first volume trying to figure out who has attempted assassinating them and other adventuring parties like them. This story is filled with friendship, sex, violence, drugs and so much more. It is a great foundation for a fantastic series, and future story arcs focus equally on each of the girl’s pasts as well as the crazy adventures they often find themselves having.
Kurtis J. Wiebe is a genius of nerd culture with a taste for puns and wit. I have probably read this arc at least six times and the story never gets old. I found the banter between characters to be fluid and hilarious, and Wiebe’s dialogue is so well written that you truly get a grasp of each characters personality early on. The plot is easy to follow with several gems that you can be certain will show up later. Each character is as mysterious as they are sassy and this comic definitely points out that even bad puns are good. My favorite aspect of this comic is the depth of each character. These ladies are all insanely different with a similar taste for fighting and drinking, but their pasts still weigh heavy on them. The series shows that even when you are running from your past mistakes, they always seem to catch up to you when you’re least expecting it. I am certainly curious to see where this series goes, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the newest issue!
So all social media bashing aside, Roc Upchurch brought some stellar work to the table when he illustrated Rat Queens. His work is grungy, sexy, and most of his panels are just plain beautiful. In the beginning of the paperback volume there are portraits of each of the Rat Queens with a little blurb that essentially sums them up as characters (at least to start), and they’re fantastic. I love how each character has their own unique sense of style that compliments their personality and upbringing. I really don’t think there was anything to dislike about Upchurch’s art. The action sequences are all extremely well done, the facial expressions are remarkable, and he is consistent with the details of each character. Upchurch truly did a fantastic job with this volume, and it is a shame he was unable to continue working on this series.
I would highly recommend this comic to anyone who loves a good pun, some playful banter, and lots of adventure. Wiebe and Upchurch turned me on to the world of comic books, and they did so with their sexy portrayal of the Rat Queens and some admirable sass. I’m a sucker for a good story and realistic heroes and these ladies fit the bill. No one is perfect, sometimes in a fantastical world you accidentally kill an ogres boyfriend, but you need to be willing to do what’s right in the end and that’s the most important lesson of growing up (at least that I’ve learned so far). You can pick up volume one of Rat Queens from any comic book distributor, and fret not, volume two is already out and you can even pre-order volume three!