Review: RAT QUEENS #2

Written By Kurtis J. Wiebe
Art By Roc Upchurch
Published By: Image Comics
Release Date: October 23, 2013

ratqueens02_coveraAfter a stellar debut that happened to be one of the best issues of 2013, the second installment of Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch’s Rat Queens had a lot of pressure on it to continue the high quality established by its predecessor. Time and time again new book series have had superb first issues, only to stumble the second time around and lose much of the positive momentum that the book garnered from the great start. I should have realized that any concern I may have had for this happening here was foolish, as it took all of one panel to make me realize that Rat Queens #2 was going to be another fun, violent, beautiful journey.

Rat Queens #2 picks up right where issue #1 left off with the Queens being attacked by what Betty refers to as a “Giant Troll.” The girls decide to use an old move to attempt to defeat the monster and the result ends up being a bloody, bad ass, beautiful scene that shows Betty, Hannah, Dee and Violet at their best as a team. One of the great strengths of Wiebe’s writing this issue is his ability to carry the humor throughout the issue. Whether there is nothing happening, or arms being torn off by a Giant Troll, the Queens are either wisecracking their enemies or each other. Through the jokes we are often given nuggets of information that teach us more about each of the main characters. As a result, the pacing of the issue is once again top notch. There is very little need to stop and talk so the story progresses nicely.

After the battle with the Giant Troll, we are introduced to another party of adventurers as they are being devastated in battle. After another bloody scene beautifully drawn by Roc Upchurch the surviving members of the party meet with the Rat Queens. The Queens begin to realize that the adventuring parties of Palisade are are all being targeted, and think they’ve figured out the person that has the means to take them all out. It is during a drinking session at the pub where they are honoring the fallen that they decide to drunkenly do something about it. While most of the girls are too drink to do anything about it, one of them decides to take matters to their own hands. By the end of the issue a plan is seemingly put into place, yet the Rat Queens find themselves in another precarious situation.

What helps make this issue great is that Wiebe begins to move the underlying plot of uncovering the conspiracy to eliminate the adventuring parties forward without sacrificing any of the vulgar, immature, funny and personal interactions between the characters, and any of the over the top, bloody violence. These two aspects are what truly makes the book standout. The issue opens with a personal joke about Hannah’s eyesight, contains a dirty drinking song, and features Betty continuing to be a cute, naive, deadly drunk. Meanwhile the extreme violence is given a chance to shine as the adventuring parties have been hunted down by assassins. There are two big fight scenes and they are beautifully written, and even more well renders by Roc Upchurch.

Roc Upchurch must be having the time of his life drawing this book, as Wiebe continues to give him amazing material to draw, and he continues to deliver some great artwork. The expressions on each character’s faces throughout the issue are perfectly rendered. From embattled to in pain, to drunk and hungover, the feelings of each character can be seen on their faces. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, when the artist possesses this ability to help tell large chunks of the story through their facial work it makes the job easier on the writer, and allows the script room to breathe. One of my favorite examples of this are the few silent panels of Betty waking up after the night of drinking. The pain and hangover can be seen on her face and nothing needed to be said. All artists should be able to convey emotion, but it makes a difference when done well, and it makes a large difference in this issue. Although Upchurch is strong at conveying emotions, he especially gets to shine in the fight scenes. The first battle scene against the troll stands out in particular. The art does a great job of capturing both the brutality of the battle and the fluidity of the teamwork that the Rat Queens possess. As Hannah gets her arm ripped off, the rest of the group team up for the “Betty Climber” that results in a lot of blood. The beauty in the scene is the chroeogrophy of the pages and panels in which the “Betty Climber” is executed. Whether provided in the script by Wiebe, completely developed by Upchurch, or a little bit of both, the end result was Rat Queens at its artistic finest. The execution of the art in showing the violence and teamwork during battles have helped make the fight scenes some of the most anticipated pages from any book going forward. It is exciting to wonder what this book will come up with next,

In fact, after two amazing issues, it is exciting to think about what Wiebe and Upchurch have in store for the readers when it comes to every aspect of the book. Rat Queens #2 is another great issue that has a little bit of everything, and anybody should find something to enjoy about it. The writing is sharp, the art is solid, and the combination of jokes and violence creates a tone that translates to fun. What more can be said? Buy this book now, and thank me later.

The Verdict: 9.5/10

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