Archive for Rat Queens

Thunder and Pain


The Mighty Thor #1

I didn’t pick up the previous series with this character — I was assuming I’d be able to buy the collected editions later. Turns out Marvel added an extra five dollars to the price tag of the trades — the bad news for me is I haven’t been able to read the previous issues yet. The bad news for Marvel is that I’ll wait ’til I can buy them used instead.

But of course, Marvel wouldn’t be price-gouging everyone if the character weren’t incredibly popular. At this point, the rest of y’all probably know the backstory — the new female Thor is actually Dr. Jane Foster, the old Thor’s former girlfriend. While she holds Mjolnir, she’s Thor, the Goddess of Thunder, ridiculously powerful, a righteous ass-kicker for the forces of good. When she’s just plain Jane Foster… well, she has cancer, and she’s dying. Every time she becomes Thor, in fact, the transformation burns out the chemotherapy drugs that could save her mortal body’s life.

So the trouble here starts when Roxxon Oil’s news satellite (which, because they’re a supervillain megacorp, is actually a TV news station located on a satellite) is suddenly hit by a bunch of dead, dismembered elves. The satellite is knocked out of orbit, but Thor manages to save it before it crashes in Washington, DC. After that, it’s off to Asgard — but not as Thor. Apparently, Odin has gone nuts, declared Thor a criminal, and imprisoned. Jane’s cover story is that she’s a senator in the Congress of Worlds, representing Midgard. The congress is currently debating — and not doing anything but debate — about whether the dark elves are responsible for the murder of all the light elves in space. The dark elves and their allies are plotting against all the other realms — but who’s their secret agent behind the scenes?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not sure I’ll care much for this probably endless “War of the Realms” storyarc, but Jane/Thor really is a wonderfully fun character. It’s great to finally be able to climb onto this bandwagon.


Rat Queens #13

The Rat Queens managed to avoid dying in the blizzard and wake up at Mage University. Violet visits the bars, Dee hits the library, Betty goes off to buy drugs, and Hannah goes to see her old professor — who sends her off to meet someone behind the mirrors. Meanwhile, Betty buys a rocketsled, and Violet, against her better judgment, joins her as they ride down a terribly steep mountain.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A little drama for Hannah and Dee, and a little comedy for Betty and Violet. Plenty of wonderful single-panel gags, too — I’m particularly fond of the terribly snooty King Bear.


I Hate Fairyland #2

Gertrude has slaughtered the assassin who’d been sent after her last issue and is now enjoying an evening boozing it up in a local tavern. Unfortunately, she’s been drinking magical wish beer, and when she wishes she could look normal for a day, instead of like a little girl, she ends up looking like a 40-year-old woman who eats nothing but sugar all day. The results are in no way pretty. Meanwhile, Queen Cloudia realizes that barbarian warriors are not the right opponents to send after the kill-crazy Gertrude, so she contracts a witch to come up with a magical plan. How is Gertrude going to handle an army of brain-eating zombie fauns?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Tons of great cartoon grossout humor. Not sure if there’s much more depth to the story than that, but maybe that’s enough…

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Rock Candy


Rat Queens #12

Violet helps Betty run off a hobbit-sized assassin, and Betty swears her to secrecy about the event. Later, while the Queens are on their way to Mage University, they stop to rest in a dank cave called Dank Cave — and Hannah runs into an old demonic friend, who sics a bunch of demons on her and her friends. Can the Rat Queens survive an unwinnable fight?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great humor, characterization, dialogue, and art — and an excellent crisis that sneaks up on everyone from out of nowhere. Also, “To the shitter, my Rat Queens!” is probably the best battle cry ever.


Prez #4

Beth Ross is slowly getting accustomed to her new job. She hires her old boss from the corndog palace as her chief of staff, and she starts working to try to shut down the Sentry program, which is widely abused because the people piloting the robot sentries are immature douchebags who are allowed to kill anyone they want. Senator Thorn has a new Sentry model that doesn’t rely on anyone else to pilot it and can be set to, again, kill anyone it wants. Of course, that leaves it free to go rogue…

Verdict: Thumbs up. What I love — perversely — about this comic is all the nobodies of this world we get introduced to. We learn who they are, how they’ve come to the rotten situations they’re stuck in — and then the creators make things even worse for them. And the world keeps spinning, because this particular future chews up and spits out everyone eventually. No one in this world is going to get saved — and that in itself feels liberating.

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Bullet to the Head


Revival #32

Well, the incredibly rotten wannabe-messiah Blaine Abel finally gets kacked — by an unknown person, by the way — but the bulk of this issue focuses on the highly disfunctional relationship between Em and Dana Cypress. Oh, you thought they got on pretty well? Officer Dana helping keep her reviver kid sister Em going? Em helping babysit her sister’s little kid? Well, no, it turns out Dana was one of those neglectful big sisters, and when Em tattled on her, she got rewarded with Dana beating the snot out of her. And here in the present, when Dana thinks Em has killed Blaine — she does the same thing again. And since revivers heal from wounds almost immediately, this helps out Em as a reviver to her dad. Ya know, Dana, maybe you should not be so punchy with your sister.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nicely emotional story, with an ending that up-ends a lot of secrets. I do wish we’d had some more hints of Dana’s tendencies toward violence when stressed, however, as some of her reactions seem to come out of nowhere.


Rat Queens #11

The Rat Queens were on the way to Dunlas, Hannah’s old university town, when they got captured by a bunch of goblins who want to cook and eat them. They manage to escape, partly thanks to Betty’s poison candy, but when they finally get to Dunlas, they discover that there was a rebellion at the university, and half the town has been shut down ’til things settle back to normal. Plus Betty meets up with an old friend who is not actually a friend at all.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Always love reading this series. Our heroines’ escape from the goblins is pretty awesome. I do wish we could’ve seen what the Queens looked like in college, like the cover suggested we’d see…

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Ducks and Rats and Hawks, Oh My!


Howard the Duck #2

Howard has been ducknapped by the Collector and stuck into his interstellar zoo — just like in his cameo from “Guardians of the Galaxy!” And sure enough, there’s Rocket Raccoon, who’s also in the hoosegow with Howard. But it’s all a cunning ruse — Rocket has a way to take over the computers, so he shuts down the forcefield around the prison planet, and the Guardians help Howard escape. But they have to leave all the other prisoners — all guilty of nothing more than being the last members of their races — stuck in the Collector’s zoo, and that doesn’t sit well with Howard, even after he makes it back to Earth.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of excellent and surreal jokes. A nice bit of characterization — Howard actually has a sense of justice, but he’s still just a talking duck, so he’s frustrated that he can’t do more to help others. And a wonderfully bizarre cliffhanger, too. And really, it’s worth a thumbs up just for the amazing duckface cover.


Rat Queens #10

The Rat Queens and their mercenary allies continue their struggle against Gerrig, his soldiers, and the gods he’s wielding against the city. Skulls are cleaved, smooches are delivered, magic is zapped, and secrets are revealed. Can the Queens defeat ultimate evil?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a great action sequence almost from beginning to end, with plenty of great character moments wrapped around the whole thing. I do wish we’d gotten some kind of excellent moment for Betty, the drug-abusing halfling — she’s the only main character who doesn’t get any focus this issue.


All-New Hawkeye #2

This issue is again split between a couple different stories. We follow Clint and Barney Barton as children as they begin their new lives with the traveling circus. And in the present, Kate Bishop and Clint Barton rescue some kids — grotesque science-experiment super-psychic kids — from A.I.M.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The big winner here really is the art, which goes from gauzy, soft-focus, pastoral memories in the past to more traditional superhero penciling in the present. It’s impressive and beautiful work.

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So Many Rats


Rat Queens #9

After a few months of hiatus for this title, the Rat Queens are back with their new artist, Stjepan Sejic. Our story picks up from the octopoid monster-god N’rygoth’s invasion of the city. He specializes in making people who look at him get lost in their own fantasies and nightmares. Hannah gets stuck in a couple — one a nightmare about her half-breed childhood and another about sexytimes with Sawyer. By the way, Sawyer is actually being held prisoner by Gerrig, who mainly wants revenge on the entire city because his life sucks. Soon enough, the rest of the Rat Queens are together, along with plenty of their mercenary allies, including super-awesome Braga and Orc Dave and his magnificent beard. Can they fight their way through an army? Can they foil whatever plan Gerrig has put together?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So great to see all these characters together again. Love the bits about Hannah’s past, love the super-awesome fight sequences, love Sejic’s artwork. Glad to see this title back and firing on all cylinders again.


Rat God #2

Clark Elwood continues to be a spectacularly stupid and horrible man, despite his supposed learning and sophistication. While stumbling lost in the snow, he remembers some happier times with his quasi-girlfriend Kito. After enjoying a soda with her, he later barges into her workplace, only to discover that she works as a nude model. He’s shocked and horrified, especially when Kito follows him outside, still naked, to profess her love. Back in the present, Clark is rescued by Kito’s brother, who Clark continues to treat abominably. Clark takes his car back and continues his search for Kito’s hometown, Lame Dog, a terribly decayed village where all the residents looks suspiciously like rats — and where they all advise him to leave town before dark and definitely to avoid the local cemetery. But Clark continues to treat everyone horribly and to keep jumping into conflicts he’s got no business getting into.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wondrously wonderful artwork by Richard Corben, creepy-weird story-telling, and just an all-around bizarre horror comic. Have I mentioned what a complete douchebag Clark Elwood is? Because the man is just an absolute douchebag. He’s the protagonist I love to hate, and knowing Corben, he’ll end this miniseries at the bottom of some eldritch monstrosity’s digestive tract.

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Everyone Needs a Friend


Shutter #8

Kate Kristopher and her recently-discovered half-brother Chris have been captured by one of her other previously-unknown siblings, the vengeful Kalliyan, who takes them both to her home in Cambodia. Chris is making new friends, and he’s being treated a great deal better than Kate, who Kalliyan appears to blame for a lot of her misfortunes over the years. Meanwhile, Alarm Cat recently lost his head. He’s still functional, but he’s settling into a bout of serious depression. Can Chris help him recover?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It was all fine, but I found myself a lot more interested in the backstory of Alarm Cat (told through a bunch of excellently created comic strip knockoffs) and his struggles with the loss of his head.


Rat Queens Special: Braga #1

We get a story fully focused on the one-eyed orc princess Braga and her history — she started out as Broog, the son of an orc chieftan, and the mightiest orc warrior around. But he was less interested in battle and more in pushing orc society higher — and that meant education, less slavery, and a lot less war. But his father wasn’t happy with that, and his younger brother saw a way to advance his own cause. What finally pushed Broog out of his tribe and deprived him of the people he loved?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very cool story and great art, along with an unexpected story about a character we never knew was transgender ’til now. There’s action and intrigue and humor and smart dialogue and characterization and even a little sex. Worth picking up if you love the Rat Queens characters.


Lazarus #14

Forever Carlyle has been sent to kidnap her traitorous brother Jonah from the diabolical Jakob Hock — and then to kill him, while making it look like Hock did the deed himself. But Forever isn’t so keen on blindly following every order her father gives her anymore. So she helps Jonah escape — in a desperately risky way that makes it look like he’s dead. But they’ve gotten away with it — everyone thinks Hock had Jonah killed. But Hock has his allies among the families, and he’s going to order one of their Lazarii to fight Forever to the death.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic story and artwork, with lots of action, claustrophobic intrigue, devilish double-dealing. Jakob Hock is a desperately awful villain, and I hope he gets what’s coming to him.


Silver Surfer #8

Norrin gives Dawn Greenwood a chance to drive his board, and her entirely unpredictable surfing style accidentally leads them to a world the Surfer has never seen before — Newhaven, where the entire population is composed of the sole survivors of lost alien races — in fact, they’re all from worlds devoured by Galactus! And when they learn that Norrin is really the Silver Surfer, Herald of Galactus, they reveal to Dawn his history helping to slaughter entire worlds. Is this the end of their budding relationship? And is it the beginning of a new rampage by the Devourer of Worlds?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent story and art — though I do wonder how Dawn never managed to hear about who Galactus was…

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Down in the Dark


American Vampire: Second Cycle #5

We get a single-issue flashback 1954 in the Nevada desert. A researcher for the vampire-hunting Vassals of the Morning Star is searching for an old mining claim known as the Royal Forkes drift claim. He’d read an old journal written by a miner that referenced the claim. As the researcher looks for, finds, and descends into the old claim, we get to read the miner’s journal, as he and a friend sign on for a claim where they’re being paid a (for the time) very generous dollar per day. But the site is extremely odd. The other miners are unusually quiet, unlike the boisterous, noisy, drunken miners at other claims. The dig site is merely digging straight down into the earth, not bringing up any minerals — and in fact, bypassing veins of silver — and the foreman’s tent is tall and black, and terrible screams are heard from it every night. Did the miners ever manage to escape? And what will the researcher find at the bottom of the hole?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is the most frightening comic I’ve read in several years. I am not kidding. I am not kidding one bit. I really don’t remember the last time I was genuinely scared reading a comic book, but this one definitely did it for me. You want a little dose of pre-Halloween scares? Go get this comic. Go get it. Go get it.


Rat Queens #8

Hey, it’s another flashback issue, this time focusing on dwarven warrior Violet, back when she was a dutiful — and bearded — daughter, modeling her family’s armor at the annual trade show while her brother gets to take part in the battle tourney. But Violet discovers something new and exciting — a dwarven woman is participating in the tournament — a woman who’s shaved her beard off! And she even wins the tournament! How will her example inspire Violet?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a really fun issue, with lots of humor, action, drama, and fantastic characterization. Violet has always been kinda a background character in the series — not as loony or hipster as the other characters, and in a lot of ways the most traditional fantasy archetype in the series. It’s great to get a focus on her so we can see what sets her apart and makes her unique.

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The Long Arm of the Law


Ms. Marvel #6

The villain known as the Inventor wants Ms. Marvel dead, but Kamala Khan has more pressing concerns — her parents want her to talk to Sheikh Abdullah, the family minister and one of Kamala’s nemeses. And as seems to be typical with Kamala, he’s nowhere near the monster she’s let herself be convinced he is — conservative, yes, but more compassionate and understanding than she’d expected from listening to his youth lectures at the mosque. She confesses that she sneaks out at night because she’s helping people, and he advises her to find a teacher to help her help people better.

When Kamala chases after a report of alligators in the sewers, what she finds is a bunch of cyber-alligators, created and controlled by the Inventor. He appears to her in a hologram, revealing himself as a cybernetically-enhanced mutant parakeet who claims to be the clone of Thomas Edison. And there’s someone else tracking the Inventor — and Kamala is delighted to learn she’s going to get to team up with Wolverine! But this isn’t the unstoppable mutant badass Wolverine she was hoping to meet and be trained by — this is the guy who’s recently lost his healing factor, and fighting monster alligators in an absurdly spacious sewer means he’s quickly a badly injured mutant who Kamala has to somehow keep alive…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Jacob Wyatt takes over the art on this story, which can sometimes be a serious speedbump on a comic, especially one as young as this one, but nope, everything keeps firing on all cylinders. The story is great, the dialogue is fantastic, the art is fun. It’s a grand comic with wonderful action, drama, humor, and wisdom — and really great characters, too. Y’all better be reading this series, or we’re gonna have trouble.


Rat Queens #7

Dee’s husband, a worshiper of N’rygoth, has come to Palisade — just in time for Gerrig to enact his mad plan to punish the city for his life’s unhappiness. He intends to call N’rygoth itself to the city, but without any bindings to hold it back. Dee is a former N’rygoth worshiper, but she’s an atheist now — how will she handle concrete evidence of the monster-god’s existence? Plus there’s a really fantastic fight scene between Lola — who I really can’t say I remember at all — and a whole team of mercenaries.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The main story has all the humor and snark and drama we’ve come to expect from this series — but Lola’s battle against the seven mercenaries is really something else. Punishing, brutal, painful, and shockingly brilliant action — there’s more ass-whuppery in this five-page fight scene than you’ll find in a dozen other comics.


She-Hulk #6

Shulkie learns that discussing the mysterious Blue File case has a tendency to make people lose their minds, attack people talking about the case, and attempt suicide. She meets with Dr. Kevin Trench, a former superhero named Nightwatch (who I’m pretty sure is supposed to be dead in current continuity) who was one of the people named in the deadly lawsuit. They’re attacked out of nowhere by a bunch of demons. When Angie Huang finally gets back to New York after her near-death experience, Jennifer has apparently had her mind altered so she doesn’t care about the case anymore.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This is a case where a new artist on a comic can do some serious damage. Sorry, but Ron Wimberly’s artwork on this is just bad. Distractingly bad. It killed off any enjoyment I would’ve gotten out of this issue. And it’s likely to kill off any enthusiasm I have for this comic until he’s given the heave-ho.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Marvel may be beating DC right now when it comes to diversity, but they’ve still got a ways to go.
  • Among its other influences, Dungeons & Dragons has helped to teach many people how to become better writers.
  • Universal Studios is considering relaunching their classic movie monsters and making them consistent with each other — similar to Marvel’s Avengers-related films.

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Rats’ Nest


Rat Queens #6

I heard a lot of good stuff about this and finally picked up the first trade paperback last month. It was great fun, so I figured I’ll pick it up ongoing from here on out.

Our setup here is a fantasy series starring a team of hard-partying mercenaries — Hannah, a cynical elven rockabilly spellcaster, Violet, a hipster dwarven fighter, Betty, a childlike drug-abusing halfling thief, and a human atheist cleric who gets her abilities from an eldritch abomination she refuses to worship. In their first storyarc, they beat up a bunch of monsters, a vast conspiracy tried to kill them, they abused a lot of substances, and they got busy with people they loved, or at least lusted after.

So, with this new issue, we’re working on wrapping up old storylines and starting a few new ones. Hannah’s on-again, off-again relationship with Sawyer, the city’s leading law enforcement agent, gets more contentious, but probably gets wrapped up permanently. The Rat Queens fight off a bunch of mushroom people. Dee’s husband makes his entirely unexpected return. And the Cult of N’Rygoth is coming back in a big way.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This series is crude and hilarious and action-packed and awesome. Go pick it up — the trade paperback is out, and this issue also makes a good jump-on point.


Red Sonja #9

Sonja is seeking the world’s greatest artisans in order to get a dying tyrant to release thousands of slaves. Her quest this time sends her to collect Aneva, the world’s greatest courtesan — but she’s hampered by the fact that she has no money to get into Aneva’s presence, and by the fact that it’s been a long time since Sonja enjoyed any carnal pleasures of her own, and she’s a bit… distracted. She offers Aneva the tyrant’s promised gold, but Aneva is more interested in staying where she is to start a courtesan’s guild and to keep her cruel master Captain Ferox from torturing her friends. Can Sonja convince Aneva to accompany her? Can the two women learn anything about each other’s lives?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art and story, and a rare chance to see Sonja’s rarely displayed ability to rock a gorgeous dress while still kicking ass.


Black Widow #6

Natasha has been captured aboard the yacht of an old enemy called Damon Dran, the Indestructible Man, who doesn’t seem to be as unstoppable as he used to be. She manages to escape the armed thugs guarding her, only to run into the monk assassin she thought she’d killed, now outfitted in built-in metal armor to make him even more difficult to harm than he’d been before. Even then, Dran is captured easily — but what if the conspiracy Natasha’s fighting goes even deeper? Is there anyone she’s able to trust?

Verdict: Thumbs up, but it’s another near thing. The art is exceptionally nice, but the story still feels a bit light and inconsequential.

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