Kurtis Wiebe & Roc Upchurch “Rat Queens Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery” (Image, 2014)
I’ve had a hard time writing some thoughts about this book. Every time I sit down & start to write, I decide that I really need to reread the book! Thinking about it makes me want to put myself back in that world!
Not that I *really* want to be in the world of the Rat Queens. The story takes place in & around the town of Palisade. Palisade is the small town on the edge of adventure. Sure there are shopkeepers, bar maids, and other normal townfolk. But it’s also the place where parties of adventurers hang out. They get missions there, and drink and brawl when they’re not questing. If you’ve ever played D&D (or practically any similar RPG) you KNOW this town.
The Rat Queens are just one of several bands of adventurers in Palisade. There’s Hannah the Elven mage, Violet the Dwarven warrior (she shaved her beard before it was cool), Dee the human cleric (she’s running away from a family of Lovecraftian cultists), and Betty the Smidgen thief (who loves her psychedelics).
The various bands of adventurers have pissed off too many people in Palisade with their drunken brawling and antics. If they don’t complete a few low level quests, then they will not be welcome in the city any longer. Of course these quests lead to a larger story….
Kurtis Wiebe jumps into the RPG sandbox and immediately starts playing with all the toys. Everything is both simultaneously exactly what it is and yet totally not the normal version of that at all. It’s a madhouse created by drunken teenage D&D players. And it is so much fun!
Roc Upchurch’s art is an excellent fit. His work here reminds me in some ways of the old Elfquest books. There’s an underlying cuteness to this world that acts as a counterpoint to the crazy violence and foul language. Upchurch handles all of this well while still creating easily distinctive characters.
In short, The Rat Queens are awesome! If you have an interest in fantasy, D&D, or just crazy comics they are well worth your time.