Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: 'Rat Queens' #2

Kurtis J. Wiebe's "RAT QUEENS" is an invigorating reminder that fresh, female-driven, fantasy content is still alive and kicking ass. Expect an effortless blend of bloody violence and gratifying comedy in "Gold, Guts and Grog" Part Two.

WRITTEN BY: Kurtis J. Wiebe

ART BY: Roc Upchurch

PRICE: $3.50

RELEASE: Wednesday 23, 2013

Whether they're defying death and severing limbs, or hurling quips and getting belligerently drunk, the Rat Queens do it with a charming intensity -- and just the right amount of boorish style. The second installment follows Palisade's boisterous battle maidens on their action-packed monster hunting quest assigned by Mayor Atticus Kane. With the realization that the ragtag adventuring party has been set up, tensions are running high and weapons are drawn; but it's the hilariously relentless warring of minds that really forms the core of this issue.

Part Two opens with some awfully entertaining back and forth between Violet the bohemian dwarven fighter and Hannah the contentious elven mage. The dynamic between these two characters is as ridiculous as it is comical, but their fierce personalities play off each other really well. The same can be said for Hannah's verbally -- and physically -- combative relationship with Tizzie, the leader of Palisade's Peaches gang. Their fiery character interaction is an easy highlight from issue #2, but Wiebe and Upchurch's ability to demonstrate the fragility in these strong warriors is what's most impressive.

There will always be casualties and unavoidable injuries in battle, and Wiebe and Upchurch work seamlessly together to present these moments as effectively as they can in both script and art. This installment sees the Rat Queens fighting against a giant troll while nailing a few standard high fantasy tropes in the process. From staple asskicking poses, to calling the attacks out before launching their assaults, they've got it covered. With that said, anticipate the awesome "Betty Climber" because Upchurch illustrates something so viscerally badass, and mortifyingly adorable with Wiebe's hippy smidgen. It took two issues, but she's wormed her way onto the top of my Rat Queens list.

The artwork delivers a thrilling visual atmosphere as Upchurch brings Wiebe's universe to life. How he manages to maintain a subtly light tone to compliment the script, while also incorporating spectacular illustrations of bloody violence, is beyond me. There's an increase in blood splatter and injuries this time around, and he's nailed the imagery perfectly. In this issue readers will get to see Dee's cleric healing powers in action as she tends to one fantastically gnarly battle wound, courtesy of Upchurch's pencils. He continues to demonstrate his knack for illustrating smooth and effortlessly fluid narrative drawings when the scenes call for wild action. Personally, besides the fantastic explosions of blood and violence, his facial expression work is exceptionally good, especially when the Rat Queens are angry, indignant, or ready to kick ass. It's a sight to see.

"Rat Queens" #2 delivers just as hard as the series opener. Wiebe and Upchurch give readers a better sense of the character dynamics, and offer a great portrayal of the natural, unforced chemistry the battle maidens have as a unit.

Starting with "Rat Queens" #3, the creative team will be incorporating a letters column into the books, so direct your love and affection to this email address: theratqueens@gmail.com


Reviewed by - ShadowJayd
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