is a Comic Book
by Kurtis Wiebe and Roc Upchurch for Image Comics
. Set in and around the fantasy town of Palisade, Rat Queens follows the adventures of a typical adventuring party on a quest for gold and glory. The storytelling tone is light and playful, weaving between deconstruction
freely, and tropes are played with, averted, inverted and turned inside out.
The Rat Queens are a group of beer-swilling, loudly foul-mouthed, destructive mercenaries operating out of the tiny town of Palisade. A fairly standard setup for a comic book that's not taking the Dungeons & Dragons
world too seriously, but with the twist that all four of said mercenaries (and a near-majority of their allies and rivals in Palisade as well) are women.
This comic provides examples of:
- Accidental Murder: Reason why Violet left home. Granted, the guy was an asshole and had it coming.
- Action Girl: The basis of the book. Betty, Dee, Violet and Hannah are one of the two groups that completely fought their way clear of the assassins, and are quite capable of dishing out severe damage even when surprised or when one member of the group is disabled.
- Braga definitely qualifies as this as well, capable of slaughtering legions of orcs on her own (though having the Queens as backup didn't hurt), while consciously lapsing into a some-what controlled blood-rage. That, and her reputation as "The Bastard" amongst the orc people proceeds her.
- Lola, Sawyer's right-hand lady, is a Bare-Fisted Monk who takes down eight guys at the same time in issue 7.
- Action Mom: Morgan, of Clan Meldhammer, who participates in a melee tournament. She becomes Violet's inspiration.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Betty does this in issue 2.
- Alpha Bitch: Hannah and Tizzie bicker in this way constantly, although neither of them seem to do it to other people.
- Amazon Brigade: The Rat Queens themselves.
- Amicable Exes: It is strongly implied that Hannah and Sawyer are this now. Not exactly "ex", and more like Friends with Benefits, as seen in Issue 6.
- Art Shift: Inevitable with Stjepan Sejic taking over art duties from Roc Upchurch as of issue #10.
- Attack Pattern Alpha: "Betty Climber" is successfully executed. A "White Screamer" is also mentioned, but interrupted by the severe injury of Hannah before we can see what it looks like.
- Badass Boast: Being a high fantasy comic, they abound.
Braga:"Orcs know only one language. Blood. I'm the fucking alphabet."
- Better Than Sex: Explicitly invoked in Issue #2. "Dee, I'd seriously give up sex for healing spells." "Let's not go crazy, now."
- The Big Guy: The Four Daves. All four of them.
- Black Eyes of Evil: Hannah gets this when she really loses her temper.
- Bloodless Carnage: is mostly averted, but Hannah's nearly-torn-off arm in issue #2 is way, way less bloody than you'd expect.
- Breast Attack: "You put an arrow in my favorite boob, fuckwit!"
- Buffy Speak: Violet and Betty both do this at various times. As does Old Lady Bernadette at the end of issue 3. "Can you please make sure that you kill them to fucking death this time?
- Butch Lesbian: Betty's girlfriend Faeyri has a distinctly more masculine appearance.
- Butt Monkey: Gary.
Next Issue: Fuck You, Gary! +1 on all attacks against guys named Gary!
- The Caper: First a failed one, then a successful one. Betty is considerably better at this than Hannah, for reasons that are probably obvious (namely, one's a thief and the other's a wizard).
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Much of the group's banter in combat is this.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Cursing in this book is NOT censored, and all four of the girls have fairly foul mouths.
- Colossus Climb: The Betty Climber starts as a Fastball Special and turns into this.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Evidently the cult of N'rygoth, while certainly creepy for it's worship of a tentacled eldritch horror is largely benign and it's followers fairly decent people.
- Dark Secret: Sawyer is apparently responsible for the death of the wife of the leader of the merchant guild, and is heavily implied to be a former member of the assassin group.
- Deconstruction: Of fantasy role-playing and High Fantasy comics. Or at least of worlds in which adventurers are commonplace, as Palisade is getting tired of their brawling and rowdiness spilling over into the streets and causing all sorts of property damage. To the point where one of the townspeople hires an assassin to kill them all.
- Destructive Savior: The Rat Queens have a bad rep for causing destruction and mayhem wherever they go. Were it not for Sawyer cutting them a lot of slack, they would've been booted out of the city long ago.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Smidgeon Dave manages to distract a group of orcs by conjuring an image of a naked orc chick, leaving them ogling until they're impaled by arrows.
- Distressed Dude: Sawyer is tied up and forced to watch in issue 7 as tentacle monsters descend on Palisade.
- Do You Want to Copulate?: Violet to Orc Dave. She really doesn't give him an option.
Vi:"I want to get drunk. I want to get high. I want to have sex with Orc Dave. They can happen in any order or all at once. Any objections?"
- The Dreaded: Braga has this reputation among her fellow orcs, as seen in Issue #4. She's known as "The Bastard," and the mere sight of her is enough to make her opponents start quaking in their boots (or lack thereof). The reasons — and the nickname — are explored in greater detail in the Braga Special.
Random Orc: We're fucked!
He and his buddies head's get bifurcated simultaneously by Braga.
- Drunken Song: We read what is presumably the ending of either a verse or the chorus. "And the old wizard fumbled in the gloom, As he reached out for his trusty broom/But he was in for a vulgar shock, When he firmly gripped his horse's cock, OHHHHHHH!"
- Dual Wielding: The way Betty wields her daggers is this; also Violet with her twin wakizashis.
- Eldritch Abomination: Dee Dee used to be in a cult that worshipped N'rygoth, a tentacled elder god.
- And as of issue 7, an entire army of tentacled horrors has been summoned to destroy Palisade.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Four Daves. A mercenary group made out of four men called Dave.
- Explosive Breeder: Smidgens, apparently.
Betty: So true. We like pushing things out of our bodies as much as we like putting things in 'em!
- Eye Scream: Betty kills a giant troll by stabbing him through each eye. Gets the eyes as spell components for Hannah, too. Hannah does the same thing with magic wands when she goes berserk during the big battle in issue 5.
- Bernadette on the last page of issue #6, in a big way.
Next Issue: FUCK
- Fair Cop: Sawyer.
- Fanservice: Deliberately averted. The female characters who are the focus of the party for the most part dress like you would expect professional killers-for-hire to dress. Hannah and Dee's costumes are light, Betty's is cut for maximum freedom of movement, and Violet wears fairly reasonable body armor. They also all have quite distinct and plausible body shapes.
- Not so much in the comic itself, but there's also the "Sexy Men of Rat Queens" fanart images Kurtis and Roc have been posting on the comic's Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter pages when they receive it as a response to the overwhelming prevalence of stripperific female armor you usually see in fantasy art. Well, maybe not that one of Gary....)
- Fan Disservice: The giant troll. Just, the giant troll.
- Fantastic Drug: The Rat Queens are habitual drug users who consume mushrooms. Hannah has a hookah used to smoke pure magic and Betty takes bits of humanoid Mushrooms for this purpose after killing them, despite the others questioning this.
- Fantasy Character Classes: Betty is a Thief, Dee is a Cleric, Hannah is a Wizard, and Violet is a Fighter.
- Fantastic Racism: Hannah and Violet engage in a round of Elves Versus Dwarves at an inopportune time.
- Fastball Special: The "Betty Climber" is a modified version of this - rather than throwing any member of the party, Dee crouches with Violet's shield and is used as a launching platform for Violet and Betty to attack the enemy.
- Feminist Fantasy: Of a particularly crude and foul-mouthed variety.
- Fiery Redhead: Violet.
- Flat Earth Atheist: Averted with Dee. Dee is an atheist but she seems to be reasonable in why she doesn't believe in the gods (explicitly citing the god she was raised to serve as ridiculous), and the world has not given particular reason for either belief or disbelief in any gods. In Dee's words, "I'm Goddess enough for me."
- Friends with Benefits: Commonplace. Hannah and Sawyer can't seem to stay out of each others' beds despite knowing it's a bad idea. Braga and Human Dave have a much, well, friendlier friends-with-benefits situation going on.
- Gargle Blaster: The Betty Special, which is mostly drugs and alcohol, because she hasn't worked out how to make an orgasm into an ingredient yet.
- Good Is Not Nice: Well... more like "Protagonists are not Nice," but the Rat Queens are at least good in theory.
- Half-Identical Twins: Issue 3 reveals that Violet has a twin brother, who calls her out for shaving her beard and telling dwarven tradition to go fuck itself.
- Hangover Sensitivity: Explicitly invoked in the preview and issue #2
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Every member of the party can very definitely hold her liquor.
- Healing Factor: Not exactly, but Dee's magic can repair an arm that's nearly been torn off of the person it's (barely) attached to, and bring someone back from the brink of death.
- Heroic Resolve: Hannah goes absolutely berserk when Violet gets shot in the throat.
- Hobbits: Smidgens. Betty was actually referred to as a hobbit in the promotional material. Presumably, the Tolkien estate's lawyers dusted off the speech they gave to Gary Gygax back in the day.
- I Have No Son: Braga was the recipient of this back when she was male and the heir to an orc clan. For the most part, she likes it better that way.
- Insistent Terminology: Old Lady Bernadette would like to remind everyone that she's thirty-nine years old!
- It's Popular, Now It Sucks: Violet has this opinion in-universe regarding clean-shaving for Dwarf women.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Averted in a big way. Violet has a pair of wakizashi in her arsenal but mostly uses them as a backup weapon.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: The assassin at the end of issue #1, in a tremendous way.
- The Lad-ette: All of the Rat Queens (except maybe Dee) and most of the other female characters.
- Lampshade Hanging: A furniture store could make a great deal of money with all the lampshades in this series.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Betty.
- Ludicrous Gibs: The Queens are drenched in them by a poor assassin Killed Mid-Sentence.
- Male Frontal Nudity: Sawyer in issue 7.
- Meaningful Name: The Four Daves are a party of four men, all of them named Dave.
- The Medic: Dee, to a certain extent; also Orc Dave.
- Mr. Fanservice: Sawyer. (Also see the Fanservice entry above.)
- One Steve Limit: The Four Daves explicitly avert this.
- Origins Episode: Issue 8 for Violet.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Explicitly invoked. Violet is noteworthy because this mindset is exactly what drove her to leave her people in the first place. She also notes how ridiculous it is whenever someone talks about something like "dwarven ale," as if dwarves would only make one type of beer and call it dwarven ale.
- Our Elves Are Better: Definitely Averted. Hannah and Tizzie are just as aggressive, alcoholic, violent, and shallow as the others surrounding them.
- Overused Copycat Character: The Obsidian Darkness appear to be an entire party of Drizzt clones.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: "To the slaughter, my Rat Queens!"
- Braga has a one of the best ones ever; see Badass Boast, above.
- Precision F-Strike: At the end of issue 2. "Ahh... fuck buckets."
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: The assassin in Issue #2 fails at this miserably.
- Psycho Lesbian: Averted. Betty is an unhinged little bundle of murder but that's pretty much par for the course for adventurers in this world. Outside of battle she's as sweet and cute as you would imagine a halfling to be.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Sawyer.
- Religion of Evil: Subverted with the worshipers of N'rygoth. Dee's family seem quite nice, but Kiah is aware that the religion's relics and incantations can be twisted to evil by a man with malicious intent — much like any religion that doesn't worship an Eldritch Abomination.
- The Rival: The Peaches, introduced in the first story arc, may be this for the Rat Queens, but more likely it's just that Hannah and Tizzie, the leader of the Peaches, get under each other's skins.
- Sacrificial Lamb: The first two issues leave about half the adventuring parties in Palisade assassinated, including the Brother Ponies and the Obsidian Darkness. Only the Rat Queens, the Four Daves and half the Peaches survive the cull.
- Secret Relationship: Dee is married, something the other Rat Queens were not aware of.
- Sherlock Scan: Betty is really good at these, which makes sense considering her role as "the thief" of the group. In Issue #3, she only needs to give Gerrig Lake (a merchant the Queens suspect in having a hand in the attempts on their lives) and his office a cursory glance to determine that he had returned from Denval (a location two weeks away by boat) that morning, that he had recently stopped wearing his wedding ring, that his office was booby-trapped via magic, and that he had a wallsafe behind one of his paintings.
- Shout-Out: The Brother Ponies, to the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom. Given what happens to them, it could also be taken as a Take That.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: Lola, Sawyer's second-in-command, wears a sleeveless watch tunic. She's got some impressive muscles, too.
- Socially-Awkward Hero: Dee definitely counts as one of these, primarily during things like parties. When the Queens host a party in celebration for royally trouncing orc ass, she sinks into a chair near the back of the room and buries her nose in a book.
Dee: Okay, Dee. Just, breathe. You love to party. You love strangers. You love mingling and small talk.
Random Douche: Hey, look at you hiding away by your-
Dee: Go away.
Random Douche: Pardon?
Dee: This is my party. This book is good. It asks no questions. The book lets me engage it on my own terms.
Random Douche: Okayyyy. (Leaves)
Dee: Social Dee strikes again.
- It should be noted that Dee is also married, a fact she had keep a secret from the rest of the Rat Queens.
- Square Race, Round Class: Orc Dave is a massive Orc, but is the party healer.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Violet's dad and brother have this kind of mentality. It's one of the reasons why she fled home. It's also one of the reasons why she admires Morgan Meldhammer, because her attitude is "Fuck tradition", while also simultaneously kicking ass.
- Sweet Tooth: Betty ended up packing the party's rations full of candy and drugs in the first issue. During a Mushroom Samba, she began to hallucinate Violet as made of candy and started munching on her.
- Take That: The Brother Ponies are killed without even a single panel showing their fate. Also, the Obsidian Darkness, a parody of goth high fantasy characters and Dark Fantasy in general.
- Title Drop: Since the title of the comic is also the name of the adventuring party including the main characters, it happens fairly regularly.
- Transgender: Braga is mtf transexual. Human!Dave doesn't mind. Whether or not she transitioned via magic has yet to be revealed.
- To Absent Friends: "To the lucky dead, who will not be feeling this hangover tomorrow." "To the lucky dead."
- Toxic Friend Influence: One of the reasons Betty's ex-girlfriend broke up with her is that she considered all the Rat Queens to be toxic influences on one another and didn't want to stick around long enough to see what happened to Betty. (The other reason being that Hannah punched her in the boob.)
- Unusual Euphemism: "Nrygoth's ballsack!"
- Ending issues 1 and 3.
- "Son." "Of." "A." "Kitten."
- "Oh poop."
- "Ahh...fuck buckets."
- "Bilford Bogin" is another one that get's thrown around quite a lot as well.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Hannah and Violet, more than anyone, get to shouting at one another often. Played with, as it's implied that Hannah fails to realize she might be more hurtful than she intends.
- Warts and All: Violet comes to admire one the fighters in a melee tournament, because she realizes this lady is pretty much everything she wants to be.
Violet:"You shaved your beard... your clan, they allow it?
Morgan:"Fuck no. I just felt like doing it."
Violet:"But... what about tradition?"
Morgan:"Tradition? Fuck tradition. (beat) Can we hurry this along? There's enough boob sweat to fill a flagon up in here."
- We Hardly Knew Ye: The Brother Ponies, The Obsidian Darkness, and half of The Peaches.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Issue 8 is this until the very last few panels. It Makes Sense in Context.
- World of Snark
- Writing Around Trademarks: As described above, between the pre-publication publicity and the actual comic "hobbit" was replaced by "smidgen". Which is generally assumed to be for this reason.
- X Meets Y:
Did you seriously pack candy and drugs for dinner?