Review: ‘Rat Queens’ #4

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Having established itself as one of the best new comics to grace the shelves in 2013, Kurtis J. Wiebe, and Roc Upchurch, sucker-punch the New Year with another expectedly kick-ass, and fantastically absurd, installment of “Rat Queens”. In a time where persistently uninspiring and painfully derivative speculative fiction makes up most of the fantasy genre, it’s incredibly easy to be completely charmed by this unconventional, and gut-bustingly hilarious series.

WRITTEN BY: Kurtis J. Wiebe
ART BY: Roc Upchurch
PUBLISHER: Image Comics / Shadowline Comics
PRICE: $3.50
RELEASE: January 15, 2014

“Rat Queens” #4 picks up immediately after the events of Issue #3, as Betty accidentally discovers the true culprit behind the adventuring party assassinations. Palisade’s disorderly mercenaries have been under relentless attack thanks to Old Lady Bernadette’s fury regarding the continually destroyed state of their town, and Sawyer’s questionable ethics as Captain of the Guard due to his obvious soft spot for the Rat Queens. From there it’s back to the basics with a high-adrenaline chain of limb-severing violence and quick-witted dialogue, as the battle maidens reassemble to stop a swarm of trolls from carrying out a blood vengeance for their troll slaughtering shenanigans from the second installment.

Wiebe takes the narrative in a fiercely energetic, and often times hilariously absurd, direction. He’s successfully developed a popular hit series that doesn’t lose anything for being less introspective, and more rambunctious. That is to say, he could script issue-after-issue of the Rat Queens’ unruly antics, and the fandom would never tire of it. It’s laid-back, yet lively. Light, yet violent and bloody. There’s a powerfully liberating quality to this series, and an undeniable joy in experiencing characters be as bad and ridiculously uncivilized as they want, and choose, to be. That’s definitely one of the best aspects of the book besides Roc Upchurch’s terrific interior artwork.

The artist’s loose and free-flowing illustrative technique really suits the battle-heavy imagery that takes centre stage in this issue. There are panels upon panels depicting extreme action that appear to glide across the pages with an air of mastered fluidity and style. While the setting may seem a bit too contained with only two locations to play around in, it provides plenty of room for Upchurch to effortlessly showcase his talent in an explosion of blood splatter and visual gags.

Part 4 sees the welcomed return of the wonderfully envisioned Braga, the ruthless orc from Palisade’s Peaches guild, who leads the comical charge into battle against the giant troll and her average-sized cohorts. What ensues is some refreshingly entertaining moments courtesy of Wiebe’s natural comedic timing, and Upchurch’s knack for visual storytelling.

“Rat Queens” is destined for comic book greatness, and knows how to sink its bloodthirsty hooks into the growing fandom without succumbing to the over-exhausted and widely problematic tropes prevalent in most Fantasy fiction and art today. This cannot be stressed enough: “Rat Queens” is fantastic, and you should be reading it.

Note: The creative team is now incorporating a letters column into the books, so kindly direct your love and support to this email address: theratqueens@gmail.com

4/5 Skulls

Review by – ShadowJayd