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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2018 5:37 am 
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Let me just add that frigid is right on the money about Monstress and Kings of the Wyld.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:31 pm 
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Rat Queens Vol 5: The Colossal Magic Nothing
Written by Kurtis Wiebe, art by Owen Gieni


Welcome back folks and welcome to the first review of 2019! Let me just say I hope your holidays were fun and relaxing and get lets right into it. We're opening the year with Volume 5 of Rat Queens. Created and written by Kurtis Wiebe, a Canadian comic book writer who has written for Grim Leaper, Debris, and also created the World War II comic Peter Panzerfaust. This volume's art was brought to us by Owen Gieni, a veteran artist who has worked on comics and webcomics since at least 2001. Mr. Wiebe has had some trouble keeping an artist, the first artist was dismissed when he was brought in on charges of domestic violence and since then artists have either had to quit due to ill health or conflicts between them and Wiebe. I cover this in greater detail in past reviews of Rat Queens. Speaking of, it's been a bit since we discussed Rat Queens so let me touch on the core concept of the series.

The Rat Queens are a group of lady adventurers out to slaughter monsters and make money; living in an anachronistic world of fantasy that would most likely remind you strongly of an old Dungeons and Dragons campaign. I call it anachronistic because the Rat Queens and other characters of the series don't feel like medieval characters but modern westerners living in a world where the technology just hasn't caught up to them. That said this is a fantasy so magic often steps in making up for the lack of technology. The Rat Queens are a group of friends who you sometimes wonder how they can stand each other but despite that, they're all willing to go to the wall for each other. Our characters are the wildly dysfunctional elf sorceress Hannah, the ever-sunny Halfling rogue Betty, the introverted human cleric Dee, the shockingly sensible Orc barbarian Bragi (seriously this woman is a responsible homeowner who invests her profits with an eye to retire while traveling a career path of murderous rage) and the dwarf warrior Violet who is the adult in the room whether she likes it or not. The worldbuilding in the story is honestly uneven in my opinion, there are parts that are great and interesting and there are parts that don't hold up so well. Which lends itself to the feeling that this world was born on a tabletop somewhere. The strength of the Rat Queens series, however, lies in these characters and their relationship to each other. This is not a smooth harmonious group, there's friction, conflict, resentments but there's also friendship and serious desire to do right by each other and that can carry you fair distance. The group is also buoyed by a revolving but strong support cast of characters like Dave the Orc Druid, or Sawyer the repentant assassin turned Captain of the Guard and Hannah's on and off boyfriend/sex toy among others. That said these girls aren't the heroines of epic fantasy; they're mercenaries willing to do a good deed, but they wanna be paid for the trouble and they intend to spend their pay partying hard enough to do a fair amount of damage to any town they save in their own right.

The series has had some rocky parts in its brief history including having to go on hiatus until returning after volume III in a soft reboot of sorts. This volume sets out to explain the reboot in-universe and bridge the gap between volume III and volume IV. To make the story short, volume III ended with Hannah tossed into an interdimensional jail (for attempting to rescue her father from a death sentence) and about to cut a deal with a demon to escape. Volume IV has everyone back in town as if nothing happened. I'll admit this drove me a bit nuts as the events of Volume III clearly happened in some form but there was no explanation. Well, this novel sets out to explain what happened and why there was such a change between the two volumes. It does so by tying in a mystery that only Betty our drug loving sneaky halfling can answer. People are disappearing and worse no one remembers the people who disappear into thin air. Except for Betty, so she has to figure out why the people around her are vanishing and what if anything she can do about it... Before she's gone too. Betty takes center stage here and we get a full look into her past which has been hinted at before and we also get a bit of a peek into Betty's mindset and how she views the world. Which is interesting all on its own.

There is a theme of loss and regret running through the volume and how we deal with it as well. Of how we deal with lost loves one, missed opportunities, or how we deal with the hole in our lives and relationships when someone we care about is gone and the effects on our remaining relationships. Even if we can't really remember who is gone, that hole is still there and has an effect. How we deal with that is shown in the contrast between Betty and our villain who I won't name because of spoilers. I will say it's an interesting way of having the Queens create their own nemesis and I'm really eager to see where it goes from here. This volume of Rat Queens worked a lot better for me than the last one, but I feel we're not quite at the glories of the opening volumes just yet but I can see the path back from here. Rat Queens Vol 5: The Colossal Magic Nothing gets a B from me.

So quick note, February we'll be looking at Philip K Dick, the writer of so books that you have actually watched as a movie. Movies like Bladerunner, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report and more. We're gonna jump right to Bladerunner or as the book is titled “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” this February and look at the movie and the sequel as well as discuss its impacts. Which I've touched on before but we could stand to take a longer look at.

Before we do that though, we got one more January review. Let's look at what happens when an empire collapses. Keep Reading.

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