A band of adventurers, going on quests, enthusiastically shedding blood and wreaking havoc, and then double the havoc when spending the earnings in the tavern later on. Warrior, mage, priest, thief. It's your basic RPG setup, so... how is still still bringing anything new to the table?
I assure you, the Rat Queens are different, and it's not just because they're women. Kickass women. In this volume, The far-reaching tentacles of N'Rygoth, the story continues without pause from Vol.1: Sass and sorcery, so, of course, go and read that first. I've re-read that volume half a dozen times because everything is awesome, especially the art.
It's hard to pick a favourite character - all the rat queens have so much attitude. In this volume, we get extensive back stories for two of them - Violet the dwarf, who left home and the weight of tradition in favor of close shaves and basically any alcoholic drink other than ale. Hannah, the wielder of magic and multitudes of middle fingers, and some of the background for her allegedly stone-cold heart. An unexpected piece of Dee's past in that weird blood cult shows up.
Oh, and Betty the smidgen goes on an adventure inside someone's backpack. Her past is still a complete unknown, which gives me a lot of hope for a Betty-centric third volume. Betty rocks. Betty could be my favourite character, except maybe it's Dee, or maybe it's Violet, or maybe it's Hannah, or... maybe it's Orc Dave.
We get a tiny little orc Dave flashback, too. It prompted a lot of happy giggles.
Also: Tentacles! The tentacles of N'Rygoth, the entity only previously mentioned as central to the... the religious community in which Dee was raised. She totally did not call it a cult. That would have been disrespectful. Okay, maybe she did say cult. But what are the tentacles doing here in the town of Palisade?
The Rat Queens fit right in as a funny and terribly relevant part of things inbetween all the current discourse on topics such as the Hugo award puppy debacle, the Mad Max movie, and Sansa Stark on Game of thrones. If you don't know the gist of it, you don't live on the internet. You don't have to agree on every single little statement in order to recognise deep-seated issues, and sometimes it makes reading even a booze-soaked adventure in which a naked man is heroically rescued by a team of angry avengers into an experience that is... pleasing in more ways than just pure entertainment. Though it is, absolutely, wildly successful as pure entertainment!
Someone in my twitter feed a while back lamented a lack of "Women who look like me" in graphic novels, which is still a big challenge, and Rat Queens was the closest thing I could think of to recommend. Body type representation isn't what it focuses on, but there are a whole lot of females in there who are less diminished by typical fantasy art gender dimorphism than what we tend to expect. The orc women are, in fact, big orcs. It seems like such a small detail, and yet. So many cookie points.