Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery
Written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch
Category: Best Graphic Story
I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading this book. It’s right in my sweet spot—an action-comedy in a D&D-style fantasy world. This kind of thing has been attempted many times, but almost never this well. I felt like this was something I’d been waiting for without realizing it.
The titular Rat Queens are an adventuring party—fighter, thief, cleric, and mage—who have mostly cleaned out the local area and now spend much of their time getting into tavern brawls with the other underemployed mercenaries. At the start of the book they get sent on a quest by the town authorities, mainly to keep them busy. Of course, the apparently simple job turns out to have complications that eventually result in a huge battle in the last chapter.
Like in a real D&D game, all this is a means to get the characters into situations where they can swing swords, throw spells, and make wisecracks, all of which are immensely entertaining. There’s a tremendous sense of fun in this book that really comes out in the action scenes. And not just the action scenes—there’s strong writing throughout the book, and deft characterization that differentiates the main foursome both from each other and from the usual fantasy stereotypes.
When it comes to my Hugo ranking, Rat Queens might suffer just because it doesn’t have the emotional heft of Saga or the metaphorical depth of Sex Criminals or Ms. Marvel. But this was one of the most purely enjoyable of the graphic novels, and one of the first ones I’ll be adding to my Comixology pull list.