Rat Queens #1 Review

Review by Rob Neil Gruszecki


    Stumbling through the streets of Palisade, spilling beer, blood and bodies all over the cobbled walkways, four beauties keep their town safe from peace, quiet and commerce. Dee, Hannah, Betty and Violet are questing and the main spoil of their travels isn’t necessarily loot but instead reprimand from the town’s prison guard with a colourful way of describing his rage at the women’s consistent, recidivist behaviour. Doling out punishments to a collection of miscreants, men suffering from ponytails, others whose inspiration for their names was a celebration of the painfully ordinary or Kids in the Hall sketches, and goth creeps whose monotone willingness extends even to janitorial duties. The Rat Queens are sent to Hindman cave to clear out the Goblin population where the unexpected happens swiftly and at the other end of an enormous Troll Hammer.

Within the first issue of Kurtis J Wiebe and Roc Upchurch’s Rat Queens we get elements of comedy, action, mayhem and mystery all set in an RPG world. Questing through the imagination of one of modern comics’ most entertaining Indie scribes, four loveable drunks destroy town property, curse up a storm, battle with rogue assassins and make sure to phone their parents from mystically charmed soul gems. Like a mashup of the South Park and Dungeons and Dragons, this new Image Shadowline ongoing series is equal parts high-fantasy adventure and slapstick, crass comedy.

Kurtis Wiebe has been a prolific talent showcased over at Image with a slew of great miniseries (Grim Leaper, Debris, The Intrepids) and ongoings (Green Wake, Peter Panzerfaust) that have explored incredible worlds, courageous heroes, lost souls, crime fighters, romance and death. His writing has been at times heartbreaking, poignant, inspired and with Rat Queens it is hilarious and irreverent. Betty, a cute and enthusiastic boozer, Hannah, a feisty sorceress, Violet, a brave but rude warrior, and Dee a dagger wielding atheist, are all unique inventions and bring their individual talents to a well balanced team that elicits your affections immediately and will carry you through a madcap world of dungeons, monsters and bazaars. Wiebe’s work with their development is to be commended.


Working on the art end of the book is the vastly talented Roc Upchurch. His character designs are given a personal touch with the feel of stacked equipment and a bottomless inventory that any RPG player will drool over. Action shots throughout the issue are gorgeous and gruesome and a few full page splashes with lush detail of the intricacies of Palisade showcase his wealth of creativity. The colour work and page layout of the series is striking, with bright contrasts and a diverse palette. Upchurch’s expressions on the Queens are priceless as well, totally giving them a voice and delivery you can clearly hear echoing in your head. Roc Upchurch will hopefully explode from the pages of Rat Queens because what he offers to comics is a style and attitude that demands attention.


Rat Queens is one of the most fun first issues of 2013 and the creative team kills it with a solid serving of humour and dungeon crawling adventure that will become a pull list favorite.

Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician, podcaster and Wednesday Warrior

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