We take a look at Rat Queens Volume 1 and how it relates to D&D
Rat Queens is a dark satire comic book series that plays out like a typical game of Dungeons & Dragons. From its lovable characters and its detailed world, the comic contains wit and humor blended with gritty action and an engaging plot that keeps you wanting more and more.
I won’t lie when I tell you that when I first read a Rat Queens comic – issue 16 with Critical Role – a few years ago I did not find it all that great. Jump forward to today and I am all in for what is next from the Rat Queens. It just goes to show that the more time you spend with characters or a series the more it grows on you. It’s much like character development where you have an idea at the beginning but as time goes on the character grows and changes in ways you never even thought about.
Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcerery follows the story of the adventuring party made up of Betty the rogue, Violet the fighter, Dee the cleric, and Hannah the wizard. The world is swords and sorcery and feels like a beginning D&D quest. The leading ladies are one of many protectors of the city of Palisade. They collect bounties and contracts to slay monsters and complete quests. The party is already well established in the city and the comic does a great job at letting you know everyone knows who they are and they aren’t particularly well-liked even though they get things done.
There are several other characters introduced to make the world feel more alive and it makes everything feel grander and meaningful. Even though there are a lot of characters writer Kurtis Wiebe makes each one engaging. They have a unique way of speaking and handling situations, especially the Rat Queens. They also have their own secrets and pasts that appear to play a larger part in future issues. Betty is an adorable firecracker that will cut you if you look at her or her friends the wrong way. Whereas Violet is a tough and resilient dwarven warrior that is always ready to protect her fellow party members.
In any tabletop role-playing game using backstory is one of the best ways to advance plot. The first five issues were just a prelude to the larger story at hand.
Speaking of story issues 1 -5 focused on setting up the characters. Wiebe understands characters and builds time to connect and establish who each one is. The writing is vivid and flows fluidly with the artwork which is equally as stunning. The first arc is one big quest to find out who is trying to kill off adventuring party members. It’s the classic tale of one quest evolving into another leading to larger threats on the horizon.
While on a contract, the Rat Queens are given a quest to clean out a cave of goblins. There is nothing more nostalgic sounding than that in a D&D game. Yet things don’t go as planned and that greater threat arrives in the form of an assassin. The challenge shifts to finding out who hired the assassins and why they are killing party members. It keeps you guessing about who it may be but excellently presents the story in a clear and concise manner.
Fight scenes are graphic but remain engaging, entertaining, witty, and full of motion without being overly and unnecessarily violent. Slower-paced moments are easy to follow and don’t drag on. Each panel contains beautiful art and conversations that advance the story and develop the characters.
Rat Queens: Volume 1 is the classic D&D tale of the beginner adventure party. The world is full of terrifying creatures and realistic characters who act like real people. There is plenty of adult language and adult situations that would make Captain America blush but nothing that doesn’t fit in with the narrative. The main Rat Queens crew is violent and often attacks first and asks questions later. Yet they’re all lovable and enjoyable throughout their quirks, mannerisms, and qualities.
Rat Queens: Volume 1 is highly recommended to fantasy and D&D fans! It is thrilling, intriguing, fast-paced, and contains a world full of engaging and realistic characters. We give it a 9 on a d10.