by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Tess Fowler & Kelly Fitzpatrick
When it comes to series at Marvel or DC, changes to creative teams has become almost expected at this point. Writers or artists come and go and most readers usually don’t notice or don’t care. However, when you get into indie or creator-owned comics, any change can be met with skepticism. Original stories usually come from more personal places in creator’s minds, so their fans also hold these stories closely. However, there are times when bringing someone new into a series can bring a fresh look into a series you may not have considered before. Bringing a guest artist into a fan-favorite series like Rat Queens and doing just one issue, that has none of the Rat Queens in it, is no easy task to execute.
Bringing in Tess Fowler to handle the art duties for the Rat Queens: Braga one-shot is one of those situations that makes perfect sense. Anyone who may be familiar with Fowler’s art knows that she is no stranger to fantasy series. Her forte has always been balancing both light and dark elements through her art. Take this Rat Queens: Braga issue for example. You might expect a story about the life of an Orc who feels like they don’t fit in, to sound like an incredibly dark story. Fowler however, has a playfulness in her art style that makes the whole issue still embody the lightheartedness that has become a staple to Rat Queens. Kelly Fitzpatrick does an amazing coloring job with this issue by being able to both enhance Fowler’s art and using her palette as a way to make this issue feel more like a Rat Queens issue. Even though Tess was still able to capture the essence of Rat Queens into this one-shot, you could still read this issue on its own with no context and still find enjoyment with it.
Using the idea of fleshing out minor supporting characters using different artists with these one-shots are an excellent way to broaden the world that Rat Queens takes place in. Kudos to writer Kurtis J. Wiebe for deciding to expand upon this universe he has built for Rat Queens. Braga being an Orc gives readers a look into the Orc society of Rat Queens. Most people who know the fantasy genre are at least familiar with Orcs. They are brutal and foul creatures who have a unique love for battle and violence. However, even these violent creatures with little to no morals are still uncomfortable with sexuality. The things Braga goes through with her family and clan, when she was still known as Broog, is a familiar story that resonates with all types of readers. Most people have had to deal with close-mindedness or discrimination in one form or another in their life. Unfortunately, prejudice seems inescapable, even in a world filled with monsters and magic like in Rat Queens. This makes the Rat Queens: Braga one-shot feel like a very human story that stands strong on its own.
Rat Queens: Braga was a fun way to establish both the character Braga and the artist Tess Fowler to a larger reading audience of Rat Queen fans. With the main series of Rat Queens suffering from large gaps between issues, doing a one-shot like Rat Queens: Braga is a smart way to sedate reader’s urges until the story picks back up. Rat Queens: Braga felt so successful handling both the concept of a one-shot and bringing in a guest artist, one can only hope for more. As a reader and fan, I would love to see all sorts of artists tackling other minor characters in similar Rat Queens one-shots. Rat Queens: Braga was a fantastic read to bring readers back into the Rat Queens world, but it also stands on its own perfectly.