“Gold, Guts and Grog” Part Three not only proves that Kurtis J. Wiebe’s “Rat Queens” has a heart as big as its humor, but also enough respect for its characters to present real emotion without overdoing the drama or sacrificing the laughs.
WRITTEN BY: Kurtis J. Wiebe
ART BY: Roc Upchurch
PUBLISHER: Image Comics / Shadowline Comics
RELEASE: November 27, 2013
The latest installment of “Rat Queens” takes a step back from Roc Upchurch’s fantastically illustrated panels of gore and guts, to allow more focus on some significant character building and plot development. While the outrageously entertaining battle scenes were definitely worth savouring from previous issues, it’s the subtle, more personal moments in the script that will really linger with readers. One of those moments is featured on a wonderful splash page — hopefully turned art print! — where Dee is seen giving a piggyback ride to Betty, both perfectly content and enjoying each other’s company. It’s definitely a change of pace from the warring impulses and rowdy behaviour that set an amazingly hilarious and energetic tone to the overall series. Mostly, it’s a reminder that beyond all the violence and absurdity, “Rat Queens” is also an eccentric tale of female friendship at its core, and Part Three really showcases that.
Without providing too many spoilers, this installment follows our favourite battle maidens as they attempt to solve the mystery behind who’s ordered their assassination. Wiebe keeps the girls, as well as his readers, on their toes as the story progresses and the dots begin to connect. Behind the main plotline are a few side storylines involving Betty’s suffering love life, Hannah and Sawyer’s obvious implied romantic connection, and Violet’s family problems. Dee’s yet to be provided with a B tale, but Wiebe consistently provides her with hilarious anecdotes about her blood-drinking, squid-worshiping days as a N’Rygoth cultist, so I’ll let it slide for now.
Roc Upchurch’s artwork is such a massive gift to this entire series. While he’s always been a master of visual storytelling, this might be the first time where his panel designs and placements really help to effectively tell the story and push the narrative along; specifically when Betty’s explaining her and Dee’s investigation of The Merchant’s Guild. His pages are well thought out, and he makes excellent use of space and light. Showing a vast understanding of human emotion, Upchurch continues to successfully paint the Rat Queens’ feelings on their faces, from anger to regret, happiness to sadness, their moods are almost tangible. His large palette of colours is very inviting, and it keeps the tone of the series light. His work on Violet and Dee really steal the show this time around.
Overall, Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch express a deep purposefulness toward the “Rat Queens” narrative — in both script and art — that runs counter to the hyper-sexualised, half-baked nature of most female-driven fantasy comics. Moreover, their work is engaging, entertaining, and downright badass. So for that, I can’t recommend this book enough.
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Reviewed by – ShadowJayd