Long story short, Rat Queens is flipping awesome. Go. Read it now. With your face.
All female lead cast. All drawn brilliantly. Wonderfully developed. With proper interactions and backstories and emotions and personalities and quirks and also massive badassery and magic and orc-killing awesomeness. Seriously, the best thing. It’s incredibly sweary, brilliantly real, and hilariously genre-twisty.
The Rat Queens are a band of adventurers in a town called Palisade, who may have got into the habit of causing more trouble on their drunken revels than the monsters they set out to slay. The story follows what happens when someone decides the town has had enough of this, and the Rat Queens decide to find out who, and what’s going on. We also get backstory (by the end of volume two we’ve had a little each for three of the four main characters) but of the sort that raises more questions, as is only good an proper. It’s a good story, really well paced, and with the frustrating level of information reveal that leaves me clawing at the walls wanting to know more, but in a good way. It’s great.
But what I’m really here for is the characters:
This bit just makes me happy. I love Dee as a character so much, and it’s this stuff, balancing out the I-can-heal-people-with-glow-magic-and-also-used-to-be-in-a-squid-cult, that makes her fantastic. Her whole character though, the ex-cultist, maybe-atheist, definitely questioning her faith. It’s like, yes, let’s take the cleric trope and do some actual thought and development. And it was wonderful. The other characters are just as good, but there aren’t non-spoilery pictures I could use, and I should probably not put everything out here, otherwise why would anyone still go read it?
But it’s not just that they’re all great, believable characters. I mean, they are, and that’s wonderful. But they’re also dressed sensibly. Which sounds like such a silly thing to pick up on, but comics… Some of the clothes are a bit baggy, or rumpled, and they all look like real clothes, not like something sprayed on, or held together by string, feathers and the existence of ratings. I mean, there’s still cleavage and thigh. But believable cleavage and thigh. And on people who are shaped like actual people might be shaped, too. And aren’t contorted into funny-but-maybe-sexy shapes on the cover too.
And it’s not even just the main cast. Several of the antagonists so far? Women. The long-standing rival of the mage? Woman. The badass in the city watch who beats up about seven people alone? Woman. The inspiration for the dwarven warrior to go off and warrior? Woman. One of the love interests? Woman. You get the idea. Obviously there are men in it too, but it’s just so good to read something so thoroughly and un-self-consciously peopled by women, and by so wide a variety of thoroughly real women. Not “strong female character” women, though some of them are strong. Just… actual female character women. I love it.
*looks slightly embarrassed and removes feminism hat*
The art is also really pretty. There’s a sort of… sketchy, scrappiness to it that I really enjoy, especially in the slightly pulled back shots, as it does a lot of suggesting for posture and whatnot that works really well. And I love the facial expressions so much. They get so much emotion into them.
Both volumes were really great fun to read, and I wish I had a massive pile of them in front of me right now so I could carry on. But alas, volume 3 isn’t out yet. I borrowed them off a friend, but I may well buy my own copies at some point because they please me so much, and I figure throwing money at it might help it carry on existing. Would very much recommend, and will be adding to the Awesome list to reflect this.
Also, FYI, this review was really hard for me to write. This is what I wanted to say:
GO READ THIS NOW. READ IT. RIGHT THIS SECOND. WHY ARE YOU NOT READING IT? Look, I promise, it’s really really good, ok? Do you like feminism? Fantasy? Hitting things? Innovative swears? Stabbage? Bad jokes? Awesome dwarves? Reformed squid cultists? Druggy pseudo-hobbits? Really aggressive mages? If you ticked yes to any two of the above, JUST SODDING READ IT ALREADY. IF YOU DON’T I WILL THROW IT AT YOUR FACE AND THEN ED WILL BE MAD BECAUSE THEY’RE HIS BOOKS NOT MINE. DON’T MAKE ED MAD (or do, because that would be funny, but not at me).
But I try to do my best not to capslock at people on here. I hope you all appreciate the effort this took.