You can thank my Friday night geek game sessions for this one. You see, my friends and I get together and play Call of Cthulhu, Marvel Super Heroes, and Talisman and of course, that all-time classic of nerd culture night – Dungeons & Dragons. So, of course, it’s only natural that one of my geeks-in-arms would mention this awesomely funny comic –
The Rat Queens is the story of a mercenary company of four stereotypical dungeon adventurers: Violet, the Dwarven Warrior (constantly searching for a snappy quip) , Betty the Smidgen Thief (optimistically high on hallucinogens, candy or anything cute) , Dee Dee a Cleric of N’Rygoth (an airborne squid that bestows magical powers upon its followers) and their leader, Hannah the Elven Mage (with some seriously heavy mother issues).
Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery collects the first five issues. The first issue in this volume begins with the Rat Queens in the town jail for the crime of seriously disturbing the peace. When the Queens party, they know how to party like it’s 999. Along with other adventuring groups imprisoned for their raucous behaviour, the mayor of the town of Palisade will grant them their freedom if they agree to complete a list of quests.
Well, I don’t want to reveal too much but, the adventurers discover that the quests turn out to be nothing more than intricately laid out traps kill all the merc companies in town, and it’s up to the Rat Queens to discover who is behind this fiendish scheme. A typical lead-in for a regular Friday night role-playing adventure served up with a heaping side order of contextual humour that only RPG players would get.
If you’re into classic fantasy adventures and have a decently developed funny bone +5, then this is completely up your cobblestoned road. The dialogue is emphatically hilarious and genuinely witty. It’s a truly unique blend of comedy and dungeon plot, which makes up the best role-playing sessions. Writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and artist Roc Upchurch have crafted a story that’s almost like playing one of the most enjoyable RPG adventures you’ve ever experienced.
I also can’t help but notice that the adventurers are all female. Unlike a typical Nerd-night, where the RPG’ers are all male, this presents a swords-and-sorcery adventure from an atypical perspective. Not to say that there aren’t female players out there, but they are hardly the stereotype and this comic is a refreshing change of view. This is almost like a fantasy and female version of the Dirty Dozen. What a great team!
Moreover, there are enough hints of backstory for each individual character that makes them truly interesting. Instead of your usual “hack-and-slash” adventurers, each character has a distinctively enticing identity introduced at just the right time in the story to inspire curiousity and enjoyment. We have a great bunch of characters with enough variety of backstory features that keep the reader entertained while in pursuit of the main storyline – who is trying to kill the Rat Queens?
You know, the only real criticism I can offer is: why has this title not been promoted more? I mean, it’s great quality and fits a niche market absolutely perfectly. So, if I have any influence, and you are of my RPG’ing ilk, I strongly urge you to go out and buy this book. This is one that needs to succeed because it’s that perfect mix of swords, sorcery and comedy.
I think I’ll be buying extra copies for my geek brothers next Friday night!