Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rat Queens, Volume 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch

Fantasy comics have long had a strong representation in the graphic fiction market, but so many of the standard tropes have not evolved, but have stagnated, bringing the genre to a standstill while comics of other genres are advancing all around them.  One of these problematic areas is fantasy comics’ depiction of women.  Far too often, women are only appearing in comics as bar maids falling out of their blouses, damsels in distress, or for no real reason other than to pose suggestively while wearing the bear minimum of clothes.  Or, on the rare occasion that a woman held the role of protagonist, you frequently get something along the lines of Marvel’s Red Sonja, which was more about underwear-sized armor rather than a strong female protagonist.  Recent years have seen some growth here, in comics such as Dynamite’s Red Sonja, where we finally see a smart, capable female warrior in a series with depth.  With Gail Simone currently doing the writing, this likely will only get better, both in representation and story quality.

A new series that is running along with this is Rat Queens, from writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and artist Roc Upchurch.  Rat Queens features a group of five women who like to drink, get in trouble, and make money, all of which frequently seem to involve quests.  The first collection, Sass and Sorcery, introduces the readers to all of the cast, from a magic-using Cthulhu worshiper to a dwarf warrior, and gets the adventure of with a bang as the Rat Queens struggle to find who is trying to kill them.  Full of humor and adventure, Rat Queens will appeal to general fantasy readers, as well as fans of team-oriented books with plenty of witty banter.

Rat Queens should prove to be a popular new fantasy series, and is exactly what the genre needs: a funny, well-told action epic that isn’t afraid to be all about women.

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