Rat Queens is the latest series from Peter Panzerfaust creator Kurtis Wiebe. Over the last few years Image Comics have been firing out a wealth of brilliant new series’ so when I saw the announcement of Rat Queens, a fun sounding series complete with flashy energetic artwork, I was immediately interested in trying it. Could this be Image’s next big hit? Spoilers: Yep.
Rat Queens follows a band of adventures called, coincidently, Rat Queens. Hannah, Betty, Dee and Violet are the group’s members and all look strikingly unique, they fit loosely into the stereotypical Dungeons and Dragons class roles. Speaking of which, the world they inhabit is certainly inspired by the tabletop role playing worlds seen in the likes of Pathfinder or video games like Dragon Age. Elves, dwarves and magic are all here but so is an entertaining air of self-awareness.
The comic is acutely aware of all the goofy silliness that comes with fantasy settings, but it never feels like it’s actually mocking the genre, instead it’s more like the sort of humour where everyone is giggling away together. And giggle I did, I laughed aloud on no less than three completely separate pages. The rest of the time I was grinning away. I was reminded of watching a comedian who turns their gaze on something expected and ordinary, then exposes all the ridiculous intricacies of it leaving us wondering how we never saw them before.
Artist Roc Upchurch is a perfect fit for the series. He uses a cartoonish style but with charmingly detailed faces that convey a great range of emotion. Every character, from the Rat Queens themselves to background characters, look fantastically designed. Outfits speak of different cultures and a history far beyond the initial setting. There’s an inherent richness to it all that makes the world feel alive.
Despite the fun colourful art I have to point out this is definitely not a book for kids. The jokes are often mature and profanity is used multiple times in the book, to admittedly amusing effect. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a book that curses for no reason, its use is appropriate and never feels forced. But it bears mentioning all the same.
After finishing the issue I immediately wanted more, not just more issues but just more of everything. The characters, the art, the world, the dialogue etc. it’s all just so damn engaging. This is a series that’s going to shoot to the top of people’s favourite lists. There’s been plenty of quality new series’ launched this year but even among them Rat Queens stands out.
Overall this is just an incredibly high quality package. Wiebe has created a set of comical characters that have almost limitless potential. There’s no end to where this story can go, and I can’t wait to see it progress. If you have any interest in a fantasy setting at all then you should absolutely try out Rat Queens. It’s lively, hilarious and just plain fun.