Imagine Charlie’s Angels, but without a patriarch to boss the girls around. Now make those girls mythical creatures with a penchant for drug use, violence, and just a touch of promiscuity and this what you’d have: The Rat Queens. And issue #5 is a delight.
Here’s the official word from Image:
Well, Palisade has seen better days. It stinks like orc blood. There are bits of troll all over the place. Worst of all, the famous booze ship, Drowned Sorrows, sank to the bottom of the harbor in the attack. This era of Palisade will forever be known as THE DRY SPELL.
Issue #5 feels mostly like a wrap-up of Kurtis J. Wiebe’s inaugural arc in which the girls were targeted for assassination by a mysterious foe. Now, with the foe revealed, defeated, and cast aside Wiebe is setting the stage for the next story, but allows the girls a brief chance catch their breath vis-à-vis a drug addled party. This doesn’t mean there isn’t fighting, however. There was a still a troll to kill at the end of issue #4 after all and it’s in the midst of this battle that one of the Rat Queens gets a spear to the throat. While a good portion of issue #5 is spent on her recuperation efforts, Wiebe’s decision to deliver a potentially killer blow to one of his heroines reveals a problem he’ll have to keep an eye one: namely, we don’t care about the Rat Queens equally. Yes, he’s offered some backstory here and there, but Rat Queens moves at such a crazy pace that as reader’s still haven’t gotten to know all the players equally. And as a result, we don’t cringe too much at the thought of one of them dying. And that’s not good.
Artist Roc Upchurch is a joy. Again, he renders his female protagonists with a balance of sass and humor that’s essential for what Rat Queens is trying to achieve. Best yet, the girls are not sexualized in any way; Upchurch spends considerable energy focusing on facial expressions, posture and battle poses. And his battle scenes, especially in issue #5, make this issue a joy to read.
Rat Queens is simply one of the best books out there. And it should be for a while.