April 8, 2015

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Rat Queens 10


Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Illustrated by Stjepan Sejic
Published by Image Comics


Things look bad for the Rat Queens and their allies as everyone pitches in against reality-bending creatures that threaten to destroy everything in an issue that shows the series' strengths and weaknesses.

A little while back, James reviewed Rat Queens and liked it quite a bit. I did not get a chance to start reading the series until later, and it was after the need to change artists. Given that I am a fan of the new artist, Stjepan Sejic, it was a pretty easy transition for me.

My initial reaction to the series is that it was trying too hard to be cool, and there's still some of that going on, but now that we're finishing up the second arc, there is some real depth developing. While it sometimes feels a little crass just for crassness sake ("Hey look! Women warriors can be as crude as men!"), it's very easy to get attached to the characters now that we've been with them for a longer amount of time. Adding Sejic's linework really helps, because he always does a superior job with facial reactions, meaning that when we get a sarcastic line from a character, there's an equally sarcastic look on their face. That was something I think was missing before, and its addition really adds to the overall feel of Rat Queens.

In addition to his faces, Sejic's slightly gritty take here, with rough lines and a color scheme that's muted and dulled by the raging storm, yet still clear enough to take in all the action, works extremely well. This is a dirty world with people who revel being part of the muck, even if their distinctive, colorful outfits set them apart from the grime. It's also a nice touch that while they do get mussed up here, we still can identify folks in crowd scenes by their color scheme. (Given everything is a bit tongue in cheek, they are decked out in shades that will make any Gauntlet fan smile.) If you'll excuse a second game reference, adding Sejic really leveled up the artistic game of this series, whether it's making a character sliding look like they are sliding to the piercing eyes of Hannah as she remembers an intimate moment gone sour.


Sejic's characters, male and female, are always very attractive, and this time out is no exception. But what's nice (beyond his willingness to draw a penis, something many artists find a way to avoid), is that they don't feel like they're drawn to be exploitative. This series is very much about the characters, especially the women, having free sexuality, and that's shown in the artwork. It's a nice match of tone to content. The only downside to the art, really is that Sejic is very light on his backgrounds, manga-style. Given the fantasy world, I'm hoping he'll add a bit more depth as we go on and he makes this world his own.

In this issue Wiebe really starts pulling things together. Hannah has to think about her true feelings, everyone that's a rival to each other has to step up and have each other's backs (something Sejic makes clear, in another nice visual touch), and the reality-bending monsters make it easy for him to get in a bit of backstory without slowing things down. By this point, we really do care about the characters, though honestly, it might have helped to kill off a character here from the main cast, because there's now a little bit of "oh, the writer doesn't want to end anyone's tale" creeping in. Take a page from Wicked + Divine! The quipping here is top-notch, and it's starting to smooth out a bit, as each of the women find their own voice instead of just being "tough and foul-mouthed." We still get quite a bit of that, too, though, don't worry.

Overall, this is a series that's still got some rough edges, but it's definitely one that I'm looking forward to reading each month. If this review intrigued you but you don't wanna start at the end, I'm sure there'll be a trade coming up soon, and the break in the action here makes for a good starting point with issue 11. I'm looking forward to reading more about this band and their world, and if you like D&D style stories with a lot of wit (think Skullkickers), then Rat Queens is a title you should definitely try.