Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery Written by Kurtis Wiebe Art by Roc Upchurch Review by Stephanie Cooke
For the last little while, the comic book induRat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery Written by Kurtis Wiebe Art by Roc Upchurch Review by Stephanie Cooke
For the last little while, the comic book industry has been festooned with people crying out for more female lead books. While companies are starting to deliver us great series’ with excellent creative teams, to me it feels a bit like they’re doing to appease the masses and not just for the sake of having more variety in the world. A lot of the titles are fantastic but it’ll just be a great day when a book with a female lead isn’t front-page news.
Rat Queens could easily have come across as a series that’s trying to capitalize on a market largely ignored by the big two, but it’s so incredibly far from that. Rat Queens is a well-written and beautifully drawn book about a badass elf, goblin, dwarf and a druid that make up a team of drunk, dysfunctional mercenaries. The characters have a distinct personalities and a unique looks to them, each coming in different sizes and shapes. It isn’t a book about kick-ass female mercenaries but instead it’s a book about kick-ass mercenaries that happen to be female.
In an interview we had a while back with Kelly Sue DeConnick, a friend and listener asked the question “How do you write a female character properly?” and Kelly Sue responded with “Just write her like she’s a human being.” Kurtis nails this and writes these characters like he’s known exactly what the female readership has been looking for all this time. He seems to channel everything they need in a book and manages to put it all together in something that is wonderfully fun, vulgar and full of exactly what the volume one title says, “Sass and Sorcery”.
The same thing goes for Roc’s art. Just because the leads in this book are women, doesn’t mean that he shies away from going all out with the violence, blood and gore. We see limbs being broken, eyes being stabbed and more, but it’s not all gratuitous and needless since it all fits into what’s happening and furthers along the story. These are women who put themselves out there in a dangerous profession because they like getting their hands dirty and Roc's art doesn't cover any of that up.
Kurtis and Roc have created one of my new favourite books currently out there on shelves. Rat Queens is Lord of the Rings meets D&D meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer with its own unique twists and turns. It’s witty, fun, smart, raunchy, rough around the edges and will seriously rock your world.
VERDICT This is MUST BUY for everyone that’s into fantasy and adventure stories. Even if that isn’t typically your bag, I definitely recommend trying out at least one issue. The first one sets the pace and the tone that remains consistent throughout this first volume, but honestly, for a measly $10 for Volume 1, you really can’t go wrong with just picking up this whole trade and checking out.
I can’t give Rat Queens enough praise. Go support this book and these amazing creators and remember:
Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell Review Written by Paul Dini Art by Joe Quinones
Let it be known that anyone saying that there aren’t any superhero bBlack Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell Review Written by Paul Dini Art by Joe Quinones
Let it be known that anyone saying that there aren’t any superhero books for women are clearly not looking. The last couple of years have heralded a change in the comic book industry and I think for the better. A, B and C list characters are given books of their very own and being given the chance to be embraced by the current generation of readers and the new generation of readers. Not only are they being given books but they’re being given creative teams that can do these characters justice and make them worth reading about. Female characters can be put in a book but without the right team to make them compelling, the sales will plummet.
One-off original graphic novels can be hit and miss. Sometimes they’re incredible and sometimes it seems like the whole idea was a fleeting thought. Paul Dini and Joe Quinones teaming up for Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell was a dream team that I didn’t know I wanted.
Paul Dini offers up a story that requires absolutely no previous character knowledge to read. You can jump on board with this story and Dini fills in the blanks for everything that you need to know and does it in such a way that you never feel a sense of confusion and you never feel overwhelmed with the information being presented to you. The story is simple enough in concept but the execution of it is great and combines informative narration with punchy and fun dialogue. The story at the heart of it is about longtime friends and Dini nails Zatanna and Dinah’s relationship. Everything from the way they fight together, the way they interact and the way that they talk is consistent with what Dini has set up in the book for them. They’re fun, strong, powerful, smart, witty and they want to do the right thing at all times. Dini never takes any deviations that drive thoughts that take you out of the story and overall it’s compelling from start to finish.
Paired with Quinones art and the story is a knockout success. Quinones draws women respectfully and while both Zatanna and Dinah are still in their skimpy uniforms, he doesn’t take any liberties to make them additionally so. I think both Dini and Quinones wrote this not necessarily FOR women but with the idea that these are prominent female characters that will draw in female readers and in order for the book to be taken seriously, they needed to take a serious shot at the book.
That’s not to say that this book is particularly serious either. It’s a serious story, sure, but Dini makes sure to throw in all kinds of fun for readers and doesn’t let us forget that these are fictional characters that exist for our enjoyment so we should be having fun with them. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which lately has been the sign of not only a good story to me but rather a great story.
And coming back to Quinones’ art for a smidge, but honestly he was the artist on this book that I didn’t know I wanted. His style just works fantastically with female characters and while there were a couple panels where faces were long and what have you, if that’s the biggest gripe that I have with the book, then that might as well be nitpicking. The facial expressions are the real draw to his art though. Sure, comics are basically storyboards, but with some art you can actually see it animate in front of you and such is the case with this. The facial expressions are so vibrant that you can see Dinah and Zatanna making them and how their faces moved to get into that particular frame that Quinones has chosen to put down on paper.
VERDICT Buy it. I love, love, LOVED this story and despite reading this digitally, I’ll be spending my money on a physical copy to put on my shelves the moment that it’s out.
Paul Dini and Joe Quinones made me care about these two characters more than I have in I don’t even know how long. Their talents came together to create this book that works on so many levels and will become a must-read for any fan of these characters or heck, just anyone wanting to read a good story. I can’t say enough good things about this book and hopefully I won’t have to because you’ll go out and read it yourself.
Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell will be released on May 27, 2014....more