STORY BY Kurtis J. Wiebe
ART BY Roc Upchurch
For those old, new and current gamers of dice throwing Role Playing Games of any sort, Rat Queens is your mistress. The campaign has the cliché underlying mystery with a few small battles which build up to one major all epic of epicness battle sure to top every battle until the end of the next story arc.
However, this isn’t what makes Rat Queen’s so special. It’s the fact that every loud mouth character is a perfect iteration of the people we use to chuck dice and level grind with. Betty is the social and provocative butterfly who always brings the candy and drinks. Jerk know-it-all Hannah endlessly pulls spells out of her ass to save the day while effortlessly pissing everyone off. Meanwhile, Violet would rather rely on her armor class and attacks rather than her intelligence checks to solve any problem. Then there’s the quiet and mysterious Dee who spends an obnoxious amount of time juggling her backstory and healing the Rat Queens. Finally there’s Sawyer who takes on the role of being the passive game master who just wants to try and push these vulgar degenerates into the direction of some sort of quest.
Unlike other takes on the RPG genre, this series doesn’t get bogged down with the quests or backstories. Instead, it relies on quips and quick jabs at each other to move the pacing along. Even when there are brutal fights with explosive guts and brain matter, chances are the readers are still laughing from the Rat Queen’s hijinks. The Rat Queen’s also make sure to wink or stumble towards the fourth wall cleverly letting us in on the joke.
The Rat Queen’s as well as all the other guild’s are adorned with garb which is part fantasy and part contemporary. This is a nice touch and it’s easy to imagine people dressed similarly at the next Live Action Role Playing gathering or Renaissance Festival. At first glance the lines seem jagged and the characters are abstract caricatures. However, with closer examination the amount of exhausting depth and detail pops out to a photorealistic quality. Rather it be from the physical traits such as eyes, ears, hands, or the backgrounds contrasting with the foregrounds through the use of shading, focus, and textures, or the simple and small tears in the fabric and flesh, each panel is a feast for the eyes. For an indie release, it’s amazing Roc Upchurch is able to pull off the coloring, inking, drawing with just his own two hands.
Although this might seem like a niche release, it’s ridiculously enjoyable for even the level one readers. Even if one misses a few issues, Kurtis J Wiebe writes a way where any issue can be a jumping on point. Once again, this series doesn’t get bogged down with an epic overarching story where if you missed the castoff you better wait until the next arc begins. Instead, just like a great campaign ran by a great storyteller, each issue is a great opportunity to join in for a great laugh. Rat Queens is just that great.