Demons (Rat Queens, #3)

By Kurtis J. Wiebe

Rating: 3 stars

(3.5 stars, rounded down, I think)

To be honest, after reflecting on it, I’m a little disappointed in this third volume of the marvellous Rat Queens series. Picking up where the second volume left off, this sees the Queens travel to Mage U with their Elven wizard Hannah to try and rescue her father, who has got himself into so much trouble that even being tenured won’t help him.

Others have complained about the change to the artwork in this volume, but I reread the previous two volumes immediately before starting this one and didn’t notice. That’s probably just my failures of observation, but to me the art is as pretty as ever.

The main issue I had with this volume was that the rest of the Queens were mostly sidelined in favour of Hannah (who’s never been my favourite) and she makes some… poor… decisions that will affect the future of the series (if there is one, as there seem to be a lot of rumours floating around, but nothing solid on if the series will continue or not). Dee got almost nothing in this volume and Violet (with her excellent new beard) fares little better. The marvellous Betty gets some back story hinted at, and the most fantastic (if not relevant at all [probably] to the plot) encounter with an ice dragon which made me laugh out loud.

Some of the jumps between scenes were disjointed and I had to read some bits through several times before I got it, but there’s still a lot of good stuff here and I desperately want it to get back to being the amazingly good, funny and irreverent series that it was in the first couple of volumes.

Book details

ISBN: 9781632157355
Publisher: Image Comics
Year of publication: 2016

Rat Queens: Deluxe Edition, Volume 1 (Rat Queens: Deluxe Editions, #1)

By Kurtis J. Wiebe

Rating: 5 stars

The Rat Queens are a group of four female adventurers trying to make a living (read killing things and taking their stuff) in a medieval fantasy world. It’s all a bit D&D but this was recommended to me by a friend with good taste in books, and dear goodness but it’s good.

It’s the characters that make it. The four Rat Queens are all very individual characters, with their own flaws, secrets and desires. Violet is a dwarf fighter who shaved her beard before it was cool; Hannah is an elf mage with attitude problems; Dee is a human former cultist who walked away and became an atheist (but can still use divine magic); and Betty. Betty is the sweetest smidgen (halfling) you could imagine, who loves candy and booze and ripping out monsters’ eyeballs (I may be a fan of Betty [although Orc Dave and his bluebirds of healing comes a close second]).

As the story develops, these characters all evolve and we see their history, what led them to where they are, as well as that of the people around them. The other adventuring parties in the town, the town guard, and the local merchants. They all weave together a compelling story that’s a joy to read. And there’s so much humour throughout. Even with all the violence (and dear goodness, there’s a lot of violence), the humour is the standout thing about this series.

A word needs to go to the book itself. This deluxe hardback collects the first two trade paperbacks, covering the first arc of the story, and is a very beautiful thing in its own right. It looks absolutely lovely, from the silver-on-black foil cover to the vividness of the colours within. The art is fantastic, conveying both the tender, character moments, and the manic rush of the fighting, and certainly not sparing any feelings over the dismembered limbs and blood.

It’s lovely to see a book focusing on female characters the way that this one does. The Rat Queens, and so many of the women around them, are strong, independent and take no crap from anybody. But they’re not one-dimensional, they each have their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities; they’re individuals and are treated as such. It seems that comics like this, Ms Marvel and Saga are the place to go for good female characters at the moment.

All in all, a fantastic book and a fantastic series. I can’t wait for more.

Book details

ISBN: 9781632154927
Publisher: Image Comics
Year of publication: 2015

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