By Brian Andersen
Originally published on Advocate.com June 27 2014 2:29 PM ET
Image Comics’ winning fantasy series Rat Queens is best summed up by its writer-creator, Kurtis Wiebe, who describes the comic book as “Lord of the Rings meets Bridesmaids.” He’s not kidding. The comic, drawn by artist Roc Upchurch, is a randy, wonderful read filled with monsters, magic, sex, and an out, happy, proud lesbian Halfling named Betty. Betty is hilarious, quirky, and fun. (She even brings drugs and candy as rations on a quest, and that’s just in the first couple of pages.)
Thankfully, there’s more to the book than crude laughs and in-your-face action, as the series really boils down to a study of female friendships. Its team of four strong women may bicker and tease each other, but they also love and support each other. Magical elf Hannah, warrior dwarf Violet, human Dee, and the aforementioned Betty unite throughout the story to party, battle trolls, and curse like drunken sailors.
Rat Queens would pass the Bechdel test — based on whether a work features at least two female characters, and they talk about something other than a man — with flying colors.
Rat Queens also stands out for its depiction of same-sex love. Betty may be diminutive in stature, but she’s a badass whose seemingly sweet and gentle demeanor doesn’t take away from her toughness on the battlefield. Her sexuality isn’t used as an aside or a throwaway element of the character or story; instead it’s a focal point in her life and the overall story, which is a joy to read.
The series was nominated for an Eisner Award last year (the equivalent of an Academy Award in the comic book world) and has recently been put into development as a possible animated series.
Enjoy Rat Queens for its sassy one-liners, fun friendships, fantasy elements, and a refreshing LGBT perspective that doesn’t pander to the reader. It’s a well-written, well-drawn comic book that anyone and everyone should be reading.
The first collected trade paperback, Rat Queens, Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, is out now and needs to adorn your bookshelf.