A More Colorful Review – Rat Queens

rat-queens-vol-01-releasesOverview

Ever played a game of D&D and gotten hit by something from the GM that made you think “how screwed are we”? Well meet the badass, nonstop, crazy action and antics that come from that moment constantly happening in comic form.

Review

Today we are going to be talking rodents. Okay not real rodents more like Volume 1 of Rat Queens. Story by Kurtis Wiebe and art by Roc Upchurch take us on a journey of D&D proportions with a gang of gals that will blow your mind. Published by Shadowline Online and Image Comics.

Writing

Okay so the story is a little more then hetic and demands some series attention to keep up with everything that is going on. Its very unapologetically fast paced and perhaps borders on jumpy. But you get the feeling that is just how the characters lives are and come to accept it as another story telling device. Definitly not a comic you want to pick up just to have some fun with for that reason though. However it is throughly entertaining, if a little heavy especially if you really are paying attention to the details. We’ll get to a little bit more about that in the art section.

I mean a gang of women that just destroy shit, what’s not to love. You get the feeling that 13592412._SX540_the group has a lot of backstory together and a strong bond because of it. But you also get a feeling that each individual has a ton of backstory that maybe the others no nothing about. I’m pretty sure we are going to get to see at least one persons backstory come to the forefront in the next volume but I won’t ruin anything with spoilers on that. It does leave room for some interesting developments as a group dynamic though so it should be fun to watch play out.

Art

I’ve got to say Roc does some truly fantastic work. The colors in the background dynamically change to fit the scene and serve to enhance the storyline. And if you pay attention they use the art to further the story even more by embedding hints to things in the art throughout the volume about how things might turn out. Its worth reading a few times just for that fact. See if you can spot them all!

I also have to give a quick shout out to the use of panels in this comic. They weren’t just all squares or full pagers. There were quite a few unexpected panel set ups that were used very well for their purposes which really show a thought out plan between writer and artist when it came to the series. Kudos.

RatQueens_02_CVR_A_VIRGINAgain, I’m sure I’ve said this alot, standard lettering font. But at least with this series the bubbles are the correct sizes and you can in fact read everything. They aren’t confusing to follow the order of either which helps maintains the flow of the story. In fact they occasionally use the order of the text bubbles to guide the eyes over the art to reveal new things.

Diversity

Well I mean it is a dwarf, a smidgen, and two magic users. But even better is that despite it essentially being the “how screwed over are we” D&D game from hell personified they still managed to throw in diversity in a a few forms. The most obvious of which is their color pallet for characters is diverse. They don’t stand beside the misguided and horribly wrong notion that alot of fantasy stories do, in that there can only be one color. In the main group, the sub groups, and even the background characters of the town we see the use of different skin tones used freely. More impressive to me is that they slipped in some queer characters as well. Yes its not a comic that strictly handles anything that could make it be wholly diverse focused (except for the badass ladies taking names all over the place) but still the creators felt it was of a high enough priority that it comes through in the series. Kudos for the extra care in making a believable world.

Overall

A good read that I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of. Lots of action, twists that never seem to end, and plenty of room for development of story lines and character growth. Plus I mean a ton of battles and just generally all of the awesome things from a good D&D campaign encounter.  What’s not to dig?

Metric Breakdown

Art: 8/10 [Lends itself to the verse, little hints throughout]

Lettering: 6/10 [Standard fare]

Writing: 7.5/10 [Lots of action, love direction, occasional feels a little rushed]

Diversity: 7/10 [I mean just look at the cover]

Overall: 7.13/10

A More Colorful Review – Bitch Planet

Overview

Women just destroying people in a violent place in preparation for a violent game. They might be locked up on a whole ‘nother planet but these ladies are fixing to throw down and put the hurt on ya. Welcome to Bitch Planet.

download

Review

Up next on the docket is Book 1 of Bitch Planet! (Kind of feels like it always needs an exclamation point afterwards) Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and art by Valentine De Landro. Lets dive right into this girl gangs in space royale.

Writing

I actually really like the way they went about story telling with this series. You are very much being set up for something bigger down the line and are given hints about it every step of the way. Also the fact that you can pay to have your wife sent there just because you wanted to marry your mistress is so majorly f’ed up. But it perfectly sets up your expectations of the universe. Everything in it is so backwards. Truthfully it reads like the most extremely violent version of the Hunger Games you could possible get in space. Its a really fun read and seemed to go by pretty quick so I would recommend just buying the books rather then individual issues as you are really going to want enough at once to sink your teeth into.Penelope

Who is presented as the main character seems pretty interesting. She is definitely not telling us everything about why she is or what her motives are which makes her enticing. The other members of the cast have different hooks for your interest as well though we don’t get to find out alot about most of them. So far we really only know the full background on one of them. Hopefully they’ll use that to their advantage in future issues to give themselves alot of material to play with. I do think that they try to keep what’s going on so mysterious that alot of the other cast comes off as a bit stiff and cardboard cut out like.

Art

The art for the issues is this strange mix of fake 1950’s era fake ad pages and a highly stylized color focused brand. Its not something that I would want to see a ton in comics at all. But it really kind of drags the reader into the mindset of how weird, out of sync, and bizarre this world really is. When people who are brightly colored and heavily outlined are talking about paying to have their wife killed it sends a message to the reader that its just how the world is. An everyday accepted part of it.

TBP3he style becomes even more pronounced anytime we actually see scene on Bitch Planet, giving it an even great atmosphere of this alien place. It actually kind of reminds me of what alot of the movies from the 80’s and 90’s though 2020 would look like. Huge electronic screens indoctrinating people, manipulation of the populace through violence. Its all very well contrasted and I believe adds an extra element to things for the reader.

But of course once again they use the standard comic font for their lettering. Its something that while an industry base line gets very tiring to see all the time. The standard font is easy to read and follow yes, but its really hard to convey how your characters are talking and emphasizing things with it. They are essentially crippling themselves on an element they could have used to pull the reader in even more.

Diversity

Diverse body types? Check. An almost entirely female cast of characters? Check. Diverse ethnicity and race? Check. And while technically it has a lady/lady pair I’m not counting it because it was used in a “we let the guard watch for benefits” way. Probably not the best use of that, at all. But I will give them points for keeping int he prison theme at least.

Overall

This is a very violent look at ourselves as a society. What pitfalls we could run head long into if we gave up certain things, accepted the way things are. It is a very bleak, violent, and eye opening look at a future of a bunch of women who are pissed off enough to do something about it. Reading this series actually turned out to be very cathartic for me especially after all of the political mess happening. Hopefully you’ll let the art and the scary possibilities drag you into it for a little bit to come out the other end ready to fight.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 9/10 [Really did the universe justice]

Lettering: 6/10 [Same font, readable at least]

Writing: 8/10 [Really enjoyed it, loved the characters]

Diversity: 7/10 [Got some right, fell flat hard on queer rep]

Overall: 7.5/10