Science fiction and fantasy
Rat Queens: Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles Of N'Rygoth
by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Sejic
The story is told with a lot of flashbacks, revealing aspects of the characters' pasts and personalities as well as a few of their juicy secrets. We learn about Violet's dwarf family and why she felt so hemmed in by her family traditions. At the same time the dwarves have a unique culture that's in some ways empowering for women. When Violet is told to model armour, which she resents because she'd rather fight, her parents tell her that she looks strong rather than complimenting her on her looks. In some ways Rat Queens is a celebration of female strength in all its forms, whether that's women fighting with fists and swords or the mental strength of a woman whose primary weapons are her knowledge and her will.
The female bond also comes to the fore at the most unexpected moments, as well as at more amusing ones. The young women stick together when it counts, even though they can wind each other up to distraction, and this is one of the things that makes this graphic novel hilarious.
This episode is also quite explicit, with a few instances of nudity, although the tone isn't so much steamy as frank. So in spite of the magic, the fantasy races, and a fair bit of extra-dimensional time distortion, the Rat Queens and their friends are very much believable as young people.
The art style changes as Roc Upchurch's bright and cartoonish style is replaced by Stjepan Sejic's more defined and photorealistic drawing. I don't have a preference because they are both effective and clear. Upchurch's art seems more appropriate for a fun, charming story, whereas Sejic gives the story more of a serious, adult vibe which is just right for the blood-soaked, high-intensity climax.
The Far Reaching Tentacles Of N'Rygoth is a great second instalment. Both the characters and the plot deepen considerably, whilst the young women's sharp tongues and their sense of mischief make it compellingly re-readable.
17th August 2016
If you like this, try:Saga: Volume Three by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
New parents from opposing sides of a conflict hide out in a lighthouse, but their pursuers are on their trail. A graphic novel.
Review © Ros Jackson