By Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch
The first issue of Rat Queens was met with rave reviews last month, including my own, all of which were greatly deserved. This is going to be one of those books that everybody will end up having on their pull list. The tale of these terrific characters continues this month with issue #2, and everything that was great about the first installment was present again.
The dialogue in Rat Queens is incredible; everything feels natural and sincere despite taking place in a fantasy setting. The fact that real-world colloquialisms and other contemporary speech are used throughout discussions of adventuring parties, bizarre monsters, and epic quests makes the material in Rat Queens #2 feel even more like an actual group of tabletop RPG’ers gathered around the table for game night. Despite this wonderful take on the source material, there is a tremendous amount of substance to this book. Each of the characters that Kurtis J. Wiebe writes has a ton of personality, and each one is presented with different character-traits that make them all highly enjoyable to follow. Furthermore, the ladies have to be the funniest in the medium. Issue #2, like the first installment, was full of laugh-out-loud moments. However, one aspect that seemed much more prominent in this latest issue was the actual battles. Rat Queens #2 was littered with the magnificently executed humor that is now expected of this title, but there was also a lot of exciting action. The fight scenes were dynamic, bloody, and quite well constructed. This also allowed for more of the classic RPG elements to come into play with comedic effect. Issue #2 also featured some serious moments that were quite effective in reminding the reader of one of the key aspects of this series’ magnificence: although this is probably the most sincerely funny book you could be reading, the overall plot is so well executed that it would still be a very interesting and enjoyable read if you removed the humor. This is not a simple feat to achieve, but Wiebe seems to pull it off with astonishing ease. As wonderful as the opening issue was, Rat Queens #2 really starts to dig into the central story involving a clandestine plot against the local adventuring parties.
Given how amazingly well-written this book is, it comes as no surprise that a great artist would also be on board; enter Roc Upchurch. Although not previously familiar with this particular artist, his work in Rat Queens has been absolutely perfect thus far. The book has a bright overall sensibility with wonderfully vibrant colors that help emphasize the fantasy setting while bringing a real sense of life to the characters and backgrounds. The shading, lighting effects, subtle blurring of background features, everything here is executed with the greatest precision. As with the first issue, the character facial expressions in Rat Queens #2 really helps the delivery of the many humorous moments, while also enhancing how the characters’ emotions are conveyed throughout the relatively varied settings of this second issue. Furthermore, while the action scenes are presented in a very dynamic manner, there is still a great deal of clarity in these panels. Oftentimes, this type of scene can get muddled with an overabundance of detail or character movements that require too much filling in the blanks on the part of the reader. This is far from the case in the second installment of Rat Queens; these moments are very clear and well-illustrated while still being dynamic, interesting, and just constructed really nicely.
If you aren’t reading Rat Queens yet, you’re only doing yourself a disservice. Given the quality of work in every aspect of this book, the sales figures are sure to look good without you! That being said, this really is one of the most perfect comic books to come out in recent memory. This character-driven tale is outrageously funny, while still having an interesting story that has real substance to it. Rat Queens has quickly become this reviewer’s new favorite ongoing title, but that’s not to say it doesn’t deserve every ounce of praise heaped on this issue. With the story gradually opening up even more, there are some really interesting developments to look forward to. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book, there’s something here for everyone.