Tag Archives: graphic novels

Review: Rat Queens: Sass and Sorcery

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & SorceryRat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When you’re looking for an afternoon of ribald violence featuring sharp-dressed ladies, Rat Queens is the comic for you!
Abandon all illusions you may have of comics/graphic novels as being the province of children, or any idea that a female character must act like a “proper lady,” because Rat Queens goes out of its way to demolish both concepts. In addition to featuring Dungeons & Dragons-style questing and violence, Rat Queens is rife with drunken, foul-mouthed, wantonly sexual storylines and images. It’s delightful because of that, of course, because there just aren’t a lot of books at all that would allow every female character in their book to have some kind of vice, but it also suffers because it sometimes feels like it’s pushing it a little too far.
The art is genuinely great. I love that the characters are each so different, so fab, and so feminine, with so much diversity. I love that they have big hips and broad shoulders and that I believe they could really heft a sword. Rat Queens highlights the many stereotypes we see again and again and again in other art by just being different. It’s beautiful.
I’m a little bit of a terrible comic book fan, because I really prefer to read them as complete volumes, like this one, even though such volume would never exist if someone didn’t buy the weekly trades. But I dramatically enjoy buying a thing just once and getting to follow the complete flow of a storyline. Weekly trades just don’t do it for me.
That said, even as a collection, Rat Queens is unusually abrupt, lacking much transition between characters and leaving me frequently wondering if my pages were stuck together or something (they weren’t. It just does that). You’ll be following one character when boom, we’re with someone else, doing something else, with nary a “Back at the Batcave” to warn you.
Overall, Rat Queens was a fun light afternoon read. I don’t know if I would buy more of it, but I would absolutely borrow it from a library/bum it off my more comic-inclined friend.

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Review: Local

LocalLocal by Ryan Kelly

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book, I swear I did.

The art is gorgeous and has depth despite being exclusively in black and white. It’s evocative and distinctive. Plus the main character has freckles-you don’t see that a lot in comics.

And my fiance recommended it to me, and most of the time that means I’m going to love it.

But I just don’t “get” Local. Or rather, by the time I did “get” it, I didn’t care anymore.

Local is an indie comic that I read in large trade form: I’m not sure if it originally debuted as individual single issues, but I pity the reader who tried to follow the story that way if it did. The idea is basically 12 loosely tied together short stories generally but not always revolving around Megan McKeenan. It’s billed as a “coming of age” story, and supposedly the stories are told sequentially by year, with Megan aging a year between each.

But it’s a mess to follow. You can’t tell that time is jumping around, and because the place IS ALSO jumping around (one of the central themes is moving around and trying to become “local” in new cities), it feels completely disjointed. Oh, and if that’s not enough jumping for you, you also jump around with point-of-view characters, including one section that focused on the lead of a band that is never again mentioned.

So. Supposedly it’s a coming-of-age story for Megan, but it comes across as a jumble. Ignoring all the non-directly Megan stuff, you’re left with the portrait of an extremely screwed up girl. Between bad luck and poor choices–and poor choices which, I feel, vastly outstrip “normal teen experiences” with their horribleness–her life is one catastrophe after another. I just want to buy her a sandwich and direct her to a counseling center.

And yet, despite the repeated failures of her life, we’re supposed to believe that things more or less all work out in the end for her. I’m finding that very hard to believe, though the final story tries hard to make it sound like she has finally seen her problems and they just sort of got better.

The “lesson” I got from this story is “life sucks and then you die.” Which…just isn’t my kind of thing to read for pleasure. Your results my vary.

No, Megan’s story is tragic at best, an overdramatic moral tale at worst.

But the art is beautiful, so if you’re feeling existential and/or you are an impressionable teenager, Local might be for you.

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