This week sees the release of Rat Queens by writers Kurtis Wiebe and Meg Dejmal and G3 favorite, artist Roc Upchurch. I had the distinct pleasure of reading the first issue, and I enjoyed it. Anything that can get a belly laugh out of me has my approval. Also, the art is pretty damn swank… a lovely segue into the first thing to love about Rat Queens.
Color ‘Em Bad
There is a reason Roc is a favorite of ours, and it’s because he’s got skills. One of those skills is a penchant for color. I’ve seen his pencils sans color and they are great all by themselves. But Roc lays the color down with a vibrancy and well-timed contrast that gives the characters he renders definitive life. Or, if you are on the receiving end of the Queens… blood-red death.
Gloriously Gutsy Splash Pages
I mean that quite literally, but figuratively, too. Rat Queens isn’t pulling any punches (or stabs) when it comes to visual gratuity. Gore not your thing? I invite you to consider the fantasy context of these over-the-top characters, the festive sense of humor the book is written with and that Roc is drawing it. He’s got a unique, roguish stylization that sets a bold tone and boasts some dynamic perspectives. There are some truly fetching pages that will make you pause.
Women That Cuss
That over-the-top thing that I just mentioned, yeah, these women have filthy, filthy mouths. It is the kind of thing you imagine you’d hear in a medieval pub post-battle, when the men are all drunk and blood-spattered. Except it’s four ladies covered in blood and it’s before, during and after the battle. A real paradigm-shifter.
Fuck Yeah, a Black Atheist!
I certainly am not so obtuse that I think there are no non-white non-believers. There are, of course, plenty of heathens in all the various shades of human (hobbit, elf and dwarf), myself included. The thing is that I live below the Mason-Dixon line, and that’s a demographic that doesn’t get a lot of love ’round these parts. So, not only do we have an atheist, but an exquisitely drawn, beautiful brown lady atheist as one of our four protagonists. Her name is Dee, and she fills my unicorn heart with joy.
So “Bad” That It’s Good
Over the past two years, the collective initiative for the “Strong Female Character” has unintentionally devolved and comes off as condescending as fuck. Not only that, but “strong” is not a catch-all adjective when considering a complex female character. Women are people and people are flawed and that’s OK.
The SFC has somehow been conflated with a desire to “goodwash” new female characters in what seems to be a vigilant attempt at preventing the ills of the past. I don’t like trite female tropes either, but what fiction and comics could benefit from is more female characters of all kinds with varying virtues and vices.
The Rat Queens have got the vices portion of the show covered. Thank goodness.
Rat Queens #1 will be at your comic shop tomorrow, September 25th.