May 14, 2015

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Rat Queens, Volume 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'Rygoth

Rat Queens, Volume 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'Rygoth
Written by Kurtis Wiebe
Illustrated by Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Šejić
Published by Image Comics
This second arc of Rat Queens is going to go down as one of the longest drawn out comic arcs in recent memory. One year and a shift in artists later, this paperback contains issues #6 - #10 and fortunately continues steaming forward with  all of its well-deserved momentum. This is a title for anyone interested in the fantasy genre as it plays with established tropes in a witty and engaging way.
The arc joins the story the morning after the raging party our titular heroines threw after defending the town from a rampaging goblin army. After partying hard everyone is looking forward to a bit of time to recuperate while attempting to work out what to do next with their lives. As is the way with a group of mercenaries, life is never that simple. While issue #6 is filled with a hilarious crusade against the mushroom people (don't ask), the Rat Queens soon discover a growing threat tied to the past of resident necromancer Dee when her secret husband unexpectedly comes to visit.

As their town starts to crumble around them, the Rat Queens need to band together with the rival teams of mercenaries to defend everything that they've come to know and love. This arc is a great example of the feeling of comradery and family that Wiebe is able to create between his characters. Even throughout the harshest of times, it's very easy to tell how much these characters care for one another. It speaks to Wiebe's talent as a writer that after only 10 issues of a series, even the secondary characters have become a core part of this title as it continues forwards.
The antagonistic creatures that appear to attack the town are a stroke of brilliance. As a form of self-defence, they cast a spell that forces you to relive your old memories rendering you useless. This masterfully interweaves the present day devastation with little flashes into each character's past; the cuts between scenes create a contrast that causes a few very dramatic cliffhangers.

With the first arc of this series introducing us to the dynamic present in this group of mercenaries, the flashes into the past reveal some juicy secrets with serious repercussions in the future. The supporting cast continues to grow even further and as the characters come from all races and gender identities, it creates a very welcoming and relatable atmosphere to anyone looking to jump into comics.
Issue #9 brings a shift in artists to the fan-favourite and one-man-machine Stjepan Šejić. The two artists have a very different style which causes a slight jarring when crossing that issue gap, but Šejić is proving himself to be a worthy addition to this title. While his first issue feels a bit rushed with a very noticeable lack of background detail, he really pulls it out of the bag with issue #10. Every panel that he draws is breathtaking and his well-established ability to draw emotive faces shines.


The detail contained in every panel that Šejić turns in during issue #10 contains such a high attention to detail. Whether the shot is showing a simple spell, a tactful dodge around an incoming arrow or even a passionate kiss, the amount of shown is astounding and highlights the three-dimensional nature of this world.
With Rat Queens seemingly back on a regular schedule, the positive and welcoming fan-base will hopefully continue to grow and continue to encourage comic newbies to pick up the hobby. The natural humour and intimacy that Wiebe and Šejić are bringing to the table with this series clearly resonates with a lot of people and shows no sign of letting up. This is a series that you need to get into before it's too late. You won't regret it.