Weekend Shorts: Rat Queens and The Woods

Comics comics comics. I have lots of comics. Let’s read some!

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: “Sass and Sorcery”, by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch
Rat Queens, Vol. 1I had heard decent things about this comic from people I trust, but the concept — dwarves and elves and stuff going on quests — is one that I tend to like in theory more than in practice, so it wasn’t on the top of my reading list. Then I got stuck in a long line at my comic shop and this book was hanging out on the counter, and one flip through the artwork had me sold. It is super pretty, guys.

And then I read it, and the story is equally as awesome, as it is closer in tone to that Terry Pratchett style of fantasy that I find enjoyable despite myself. Rat Queens isn’t quite a parody, like Pratchett’s work, but it does play around with the source material in fun ways. To start with, our main heroes are all ladies with distinct personalities and looks (coughxmencough), and then also they’re all pretty aware of the fantasy tropes they are following, and then also they are violently and excitedly gouging out goblin eyeballs, which is super gross but fascinatingly realistic. Well, “realistic”.

In this volume our Rat Queens are one of several raiding parties who are sent out on generic goblin-killing, loot-gathering quests that quickly turn out to be ambushes. The Rat Queens survive their ambush (with goblin eyeballs to show for it!), but not everyone else can say the same, and so the Rat Queens set out to figure out who set them up and why. There’s intrigue and subterfuge (my favorite things!) and also shapeshifting and sibling rivalry and an adorably tiny kick-ass Sherlock Holmes and love and sex and mystical religions and um, when does the next volume come out?

The Woods, Vol. 1: “The Arrow”, by James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas
The Woods, Vol. 1Now this one I had just seen mentioned on a blog somewhere, and I wrote down that I wanted to read it, and then by the time I got to the comic shop I had no idea why I had wanted to read it but I bought it anyway, trusting my past self even though her short-term memory is terrible. Plus, again, the artwork is awesome, so I figured it couldn’t be all bad. And… it wasn’t! Two for two!

This book is much much darker than Rat Queens, though. Here we have a bunch of teenagers and teachers in a school that somehow gets transported somewhere that is proooobably not Earth. The air is breathable but the animal population is less than friendly, and so most of the humans are content to stay inside the school. A small faction, led by a kid who has apparently spoken to a mysterious statue, go off into the woods to see what they can find there, but of course it’s super dangerous. Sadly, it is not much more dangerous than staying at the school, as an ex-military current-egomaniac sportsball coach has made himself de facto leader of the school and is installing martial law and convincing impressionable teen sportsball players to help him keep the rest of the students in line.

It is a terrifyingly appropriate metaphor for high school — damned if you follow the status quo, damned if you don’t — and you know I like those. And I am super curious about how and why the school is in its current location, and what any of these guys are going to do in a week when all the frozen pizza and chocolate milk cartons are gone. And now I am thinking about exactly what is going to happen when the chocolate milk is gone and I am very very worried for those kids. Uh-oh.

What comics are y’all reading that I should be adding to my list?

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