Review: Rat Queens

I just finished reading the first volume of this charming, funny, exciting comic about a party of rapscallion adventurers (heroes? er…). It was a hugely fun read with incredible artwork. The latter is very important to me: a comic without good art should’ve just been a book, in my opinion. Otherwise, what’s the f***ing point?!?!

RatQueens_04-1Anyway, this book was very fun and exciting. Great characters who start off just as subversions of common fantasy tropes (usually of male characters) but gradually we are shown more and more depth as we get to know them (and read some flashback backstories).

The illustrations were great: all of the characters, whether primary, secondary or just in the background, felt unique. The action scenes were well done and all of the panels were well-framed. Never did I have to squint to try to figure out what was going on (something which I’ve had to do even with the “masters” of the comic genre). Clear, concise and easy on the eyes. Great coloring job too. All-in-all very high quality lineart, posing, expressions and color.

The tone reminds me a great deal of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. In fact, I’ll bet that the authors drew more inspiration from Lankhmar than from Middle-Earth. The heroes pretty much spend all of their hard-earned loot on parties. Lieber would’ve been proud.

I liked the way that this work subverts a lot of clichés and tropes usually seen in the genre without smooshing it in your face. I mean, sure the main characters are all attractive in their own ways, but none of them in the stereotypical cheesecake fashion that is rampant in comics these days. Their clothes seem “real”, at least, as much as they could in a fantasy world. What I mean is that these are original, fresh character designs.

RatQueens_07-1There are some very quirky anachronisms throughout, but you could argue that D&D, or any popular fantasy gaming world, is also full of them. Some of the characters would be at home in a punk-rock concert. In fact, many of them have rock-star attitudes: they would be more likely to spit on their beloved audience than give out autographs.

But it isn’t all lewd and crude (although there’s plenty of that). There are some nice moments that shine when emotions and motivations become apparent. I want to know more about these women: who they are, what makes them tick. They’re just awesome and cool heroes.

Throughout my reading, I wanted to play D&D or Dungeon World so badly. This book was made especially for roleplaying gamers: full of references and uncanny wink-and-nods to the genre. I seriously recommend it to just about anyone, but especially to fans of the fantasy genre or roleplaying games.