Title: Rat Queens Volume One: Sass and Sorcery

Publisher: Image Comics

Author: Kurtis J. Wiebe

Artists: Roc Upchurch, Fiona Staples, and Ed Brisson

Pages: 128pp

Price: $9.99

Once upon a time, there were four hard-drinking, hard-partying, foul-mouthed adventurers: Hannah the elven mage, Violet the dwarven fighter, Dee the human cleric, and Betty the smidgen thief. They’ll do anything for the right price — except live by the rules. As such, they are currently on the outs with city authorities, and most of the citizenry. But when a dungeon crawl goes horribly wrong and a conspiracy is uncovered which threatens everyone they love (or at least tolerate), the Rat Queens must set aside their fears and uncertainties and face down the monsters at the gates ….

Rat Queens has been on my To Read list for quite a while. I love epic fantasy and graphic novels and, yes, I used to play Dungeons and Dragons. A darkly humorous series centered around an all-female team of adventurers seemed right up my alley.

I was correct. Rat Queens is a heck of a fun ride. The characters are wonderful: they are complicated women with competing motivations, varying definitions of honor, and serious issues with greed and bloodlust. They are also clever, broken-hearted, traumatized, and too stubborn for their own good. Every time they get knocked down, they pick themselves right back up again.

The artwork matches the story: it’s colorful and bright, occasionally gory, and filled with labyrinthine cities, murky forests, ancient ruins, and deep dark caves. The four Rat Queens themselves are all distinctive in their appearance: Hannah is tall, with dark hair, and favors purple. Violet is short and stout and red-headed, and is considering regrowing her beard. Dee is dark-skinned, curly-haired, and tattooed. Betty is adorkable and big-hearted, with legs like a colt and huge ears.

As of this writing, Rat Queens is up to seven volumes, with an eighth set to release in April 2021. I can’t wait to read all of them.

Highly recommended to fans of Deep Magic, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Nodwick, Sword and Sonnet, and Tales From the Magician’s Skull.

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