Taking a break from the main storyline, this month’s Rat Queens gives us insights into the posse’s main muscle, Violet. Who is Violet exactly? Where does come from? Why does she shave her glorious dwarven beard? Major Spoilers investigates.
Previously in Rat Queens: Dee’s husband, Kiah, had shown up to tell her of troubles within their religious order, as well as convince her to return, Hannah had found old woman Bernadette cursed and wandering eye-less through the streets, and Lola, a monk fighter, returned to her home to find everyone in her temple slaughtered. Finally, Gerrig had captured the captain of the guard, monologued, and then summoned a Lovecraftian hell-beast to destroy Palisade.
A PORTRAIT OF THE FIGHTER AS A YOUNG DWARF
While the previous issue left off on a cliffhanger with Palisade being attacked by a summoned Lovecraftian entity, this issue skips over that almost completely and delves instead into Violet’s past. And, with Kurtis J. Wiebe’s writing, that’s perfectly okay.
We instead get to see a glimpse of Violet’s past: where she grew up, her culture, her family, and why she no longer sports a luscious beard as per her culture’s norm. Violet—who is a royal of some sort—was asked to model her family’s new line of lightweight armor, while her brother participated in a tournament—something she would have much rather been doing. When she meets Morgan, another female dwarf fighter who goes against the grain by wearing her own armor, sporting stubble instead of a beard, and declaring “Fuck tradition,” Violet is inspired to rebel against the system herself: by knocking out a catcaller and shaving off her own beard. What she didn’t expect was for her mother to be completely on board.
Wiebe has really created an interesting culture within the Rat Queens universe. While it’s not a culture where women are secondary citizens, they are still not afforded completely the same rights as the menfolk. Violet can be the model for her family’s armor, but she can’t compete in their name, and it would be considered ridiculous if her brother were the model and she the competitor. It’s also a culture steeped in tradition, where one belongs to a clan (complete with mottos), where a semi-strict decorum is followed during public events, where one is complimented as being “strong” not “beautiful”, and where an adherence to glorious facial hair is demanded.
Hopefully, Wiebe will continue to do this sort of peek into the past with the other members of the Rat Queens pack as well.
GLORIOUS BEARDS EVERYWHERE!
With Roc Upchurch behind the artistic steering wheel, this series continues to be beautifully rendered and colored. Everything remains very vivid and could easily be transitioned into a well-drawn cartoon, as Upchruch’s work always has a sense of movement to it (and indeed, it eventually will be). He also pays special attention to facial expressions, allowing all of Wiebe’s one-liners and zingers to hit their comedic target with each smirk or punch.
What’s really interesting about Upchurch’s artwork in this issue is that he’s somehow managed to make bearded women lovely and feminine, instead of the stereotypically unattractive “freak-show” bearded lady. Although initially surprising upon first seeing her, Violet with a beard starts to look natural as the book progresses, as does her mother who, of course, also sports a beard. Somehow, Upchurch has found a perfect balance in making fantasy-genre dwarf women beautiful—facial hair and all—without making them completely comical.
Maybe it’s the lack of moustache.
BOTTOMLINE: INTERESTING WORLD BUILDING
While not necessarily part of the main plot per se, Wiebe continues to create a fascinating world with insights into Violet’s past and gentle nuances about where she comes from instead of slapping the reader in the face with dwarven culture. Upchurch continues his stellar work with the series and even manages to impress with how pretty he was able to make whiskery women. If you’ve been following the Rat Queens storyline, this is a great supplement into one of their title characters’ history. Buy it if you’ve enjoyed the Rat Queens’ universe thus far.