Saturday, May 7, 2016

Rat Queens III Demons by Kurtis Wiebe

Rat Queens III: Demons

Written by Kurtis Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler

Never steal a girl's sweets.” Betty the thief

Rat Queens is a fun fantasy story that takes place on the world of basically every table top game you've ever played (if you haven't played, go ahead and pick up the dice, trust me). Our characters are an adventuring party of girls determined to out drink, out fight and out fuck every other living being on the planet or die trying. Having fought everything to orc armies, to trolls to the creatures of sleeping elder gods in the defense of the city Palisade, they doing a good job of it to. The first volume was about getting to know our characters and them growing up a little and developing a slight sense of civic responsibility. The second volume was getting an idea of what they were running away from in their pasts and how they come to grips with that. Well the third volume is about how sometimes you come to grips with your past and your mistakes and work through them to become a better person... And sometimes your past comes to grips with you and tears down everything you've tried to build. Not only can trying to bury your past come back to bite your ass, but what you don't know is going to hurt you in this story.

The setting for this is when they go on a little trip to see Hannah's old stomping grounds of Mage University (wizards are not good at naming things it seems) and things are going to get personal. See they're not sight seeing or attending a reunion. Hannah's father (stepfather if you ask anyone but her) has been imprisoned by the council for well... leading a revolution and losing. I say and losing because let's be honest if you lead a revolution and win... You don't thrown in jail. Hannah's a bit shocked by this because she's never seen her father as anything but the buried in a book nerd to the hilt type. Turns out like most children... What Hannah doesn't know about her father could fill an entire library. Unlike most children what Hannah doesn't know about her parents can and will hurt her. Dee also has family showing up in the form of a brother (seriously does Dee have family everywhere?) like everyone else in this volume Dee's brother has a secret of his own. Betty get's a bit of a reveal in this volume but honestly it's kinda pushed to the back of the line (I can almost see a fictional GM trying to get some Betty based drama screaming in frustration as everyone declines to follow up on it). Violet on the other hand takes a backseat on this volume. Which is fine, I mean Violet's a great character but this is suppose to be a team book after all. In this case Hannah is completely the center of the show here as the focus is entirely on her, her family and her drama. We find ourselves learning a lot that Hannah wanted to keep buried forever and her reaction to having this revealed is very telling as well. In short, Hannah doesn't deal with it well or very bravely in my view. But then emotional courage is a lot harder to do then physical courage.

Be fore warned coming into this volume, there is going to be some drama of the emotional variety. For the most part the Rat Queens have been able to operate as a unit against outside forces, but what happens when an outside force doesn't present itself and the Rat Queens have to manage internal conflicts? This is something that happens to every group and we're going to see how the Rat Queens deal with it. The answer to that is not calmly or wisely by the way. We're also going to see that despite their best efforts, they do have some growing to do. Some more then others. I won't say more because of spoilers, except to encourage you to pick up the graphic novel and remember there are better ways to solve conflicts with your friends. Someday I might even learn a couple of those ways.

I found the mage university interesting but we didn't really spend a lot of time there. I did like the idea that university politics mixed with cosmic magical power tends to result in ugly, violent messes where people die. Frankly from what I've seen the only reason that people aren't killed in university politics is because the people involved lack the money to hire professional killers and don't have the training or ability to do their own murdering. On the flip side, there are some serious issues to consider here. Necromancy for example is insanely dangerous not just to practitioner but to the people around them. We are talking about playing with the forces of life and death here after all. Or what about dealing with creatures from other levels of existence or making deals with them? After all these are actions that consequences not just for the person doing but for everyone who is unfortunate to within spell shot of them. I mean would you feel comfortable living withing 3 miles of a demon summoning school? At what point does the quest for knowledge and power have to take a back seat to you know... The basic safety of civilization itself?

Sadly we don't get to really come to grips with those issues, because Dee, Violet, Betty and especially Hannah aren't the kind of girls who are going to have that discussion or even think that deeply about it. Which I found sad, as it would have tied into the their infant sense of civic responsibility and realization that their actions have consequences but the action and humor made up for that. As a bonus was the origin story of Braga the orc, which tells us about her family and why she decided to abandon her people for a life of civilization and banging human men. I really enjoyed that story and I hope to see more about Braga in the future as well as the other supporting characters in the book (I am always happy to see more of the Dave's guys, just a hint!). Rat Queens Vol III: Demons gets an A-. Mainly because I didn't get see more of Mage University... There's no point in introducing me to a new exotic location guys if you don't let me explore it!

Next week Artesia returns and then Leviathan's Wake!

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