Rat Queens Volume One: Sass and Sorcery
Rat Queens Volume One: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch
I am very excited to review Volume One of the graphic novel Rat Queens, entitled Sass and Sorcery. It follows the exploits of a mercenary company called the Rat Queens which is composed of four awesome ladies. That premise alone was enough to pull me in, and it most certainly did not disappoint my high hopes.
(This review will include minor spoilers, though I will avoid major story details.)
In a nutshell, Rat Queens is exactly what it bills itself as: an action packed story in a fantasy setting that follows the mercenary exploits of four rowdy women. It's pretty straightforward. That being said, the writers have done a lot to distinguish it from similar action-fantasy fair. The cast of characters alone is noteworthy. The main characters, the Rat Queens, are a kickass group of diverse women. Volume One does a great job of introducing their general quirks and style, but each of them is also given a subplot of their own. Considering the length of the volume, less than 100 pages, the authors did a great job packing story and character details in without the it feeling forced. Each woman feels unique and realistic. And through these character arcs they manage to touch on a lot of big issues, including race, religion, culture, and sexuality. All of this is done in a way that feels natural to the characters too, something I found impressive. I was very pleased and excited by the overall characterization. It's definitely the core of the graphic novel and the facet that I was most drawn to. (Btw, my favorite is Betty.)
Apart from the characters, the plot itself is also interesting. Rather than your usual grand and honorable heroes, the Rat Queens are much more chaotic. It was interesting to see how such unique characters interacted with a more traditional fantasy plot. Yes, there is a quest, but nothing about the way it plays out is traditional at all. There is humor, a bit of mystery, and a lot of action. The plot is fast-paced and I never felt like it had stalled or slowed. Each chapter was meaningful, but also succinct, an ideal combination for a graphic novel, in my opinion. The plot was secondary to character development though, a trait that might not be appealing to everyone. If, for some reason, you weren't connecting with the Rat Queens, then the plot probably would not be enough to get you through the entire volume.
I was also quite pleased with the artistic style of the book. There was a good variety of action scenes and close-up images. There was also a pleasant roughness to some of the drawings. Usually this indicated movement. I think that the art is also a large part of why each character feels so vibrant. Each is well-designed and unique. Though their clothes and hairstyle may change, there is never any confusion of who is who or of what's going on. And it's just pretty to look at.
I heartily enjoyed Rat Queens Volume One, but I will offer a brief disclaimer to anyone who might be interested. It it a mature graphic novel. Mature as in, M for Mature. There is quite a bit of violence depicted in the short volume, complete with brains and blood. There is also frank, and profanity-laden, discussion of sex, drugs and alcohol. If you have a problem with any of these things, this is not for you. If none of these things particularly bother you though, I strongly encourage you to check it out. It was highly entertaining, very pretty to look at and a pleasure to read. I mean, it has a mercenary company called the Four Daves. I'll give you one guess why their called that.
I am extremely excited to read the next volume, which is always a good sign. I will include links below on where to buy it, and I hope you'll stay tuned. Thanks for reading!