Cleric/Ranger, Barbarian, Warlock, Fighter, & Rouge; the archetypes of the Rat Queens are known to all. But what happens when we take a side step to another universe, where the rules are different, and the world not quite so familiar? Jack in and let’s find out in The Rat Queens One-Shot: Neon Static, from Image Comics!
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Illustrator: William Kirkby
Letterer: Ryan Ferrier
Editor: Laura Tavishati
Cover Art: William Kirkby
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Rat Queens: You know them and love them, the Rat Queens are the adventuring/mercenary party to go to in their realm. Most recently they learned of a divergence in their world that led to an alternate, but familiar timeline. But what if that wasn’t the only one, what if we went to a world which was familiar, but the ruleset had been changed?
IN A WORLD OF NEON AND MAGIC…
At the wheel of a sleek, two-seater, convertible, vintage, 1920’s era sports car, Dee arrives at the Black Satyr theater and the SaveMe (read: crowdfunding) benefit to bury Mr. Johns grandmother. She’s dressed to the nines as she advances, the newsies heralding the headlines regarding the gangster Castiwyr and his criminal activities. Before an almost empty theater, Mr. Johns proclaims his grandmother’s greatness and his desire to send her off in a fashion that she deserves. Among the audience, random pop-ups appear, supporters pledging their hard earned “goldyen” to the cause. Dee walks right up to Mr. Johns and places what seems to be a small, cephalopod to his neck, and the scene changes…
…to streams, represented by tentacles and IP addresses. Dee is searching for the origination point of Mr. Johns broadcast. Even as she begins to relay his newly discovered location to her teammates, she is alerted that trouble is coming. The world turns upside down and we shift again…
…to the roof of a building in the city known as Palisades. Skyscrapers constructed of steel and glass reach for the sky. Neon signs tattoo the buildings advertising whatever they are paid to. The rest of the Rat Queen team is there and begin to prep for an incoming strike team. But even if they are ready for the strike team, are they ready of the Phase Dragon? And what about Mr. Johns? Is there a connection between his SaveMe fundraiser and the mysterious Castiwyr?
… DRAGONS STILL CAUSE PROBLEMS
I have proclaimed my love of the Rat Queens comics in a previous review, and many of my friends have been exposed to their crude humor and fantasy setting through our personal conversations. It has always been said that Rat Queens was a great example of what a many fantasy role-playing groups strive to become, and I still believe that. With Neon Static, Kurtis J. Wiebe (Peter Panzerfaust, Gears of War: The Rise of RAAM) throws us for a loop, placing the Rat Queens in a Cyberpunk/Urban Fantasy inspired by the Shadowrun campaign world. With the mix of genres, the familiar becomes new, and even the logo will give Shadowrun players a thrill. Dee takes on a digital tracker role, Betty is something of a rouge/thug, Hannah is a techno-mage, and Violet becomes a hardened dwarven mercenary/soldier with a machine gun. Even Braga makes an appearance as she strides in to take care of a big problem. The story is fun and fast, with the Queens taking on familiar yet vastly different roles than we see them in the monthly book. The plot could have been taken from modern headlines, and Wiebe plays all of it well.
William Kirkby (Moose Kid Comics, Regular Show) has a vastly different style than that which the monthly art features, but in this new setting it works. There is great background detail that fills the page with a sense of depth and reality that l, found myself picking out little Easter eggs, loving the hidden nods to games, anime, pop culture and more. That detail and depth is brought out further by the colors, and we get great depth on the page. Overall it is a delight to read.
BOTTOM LINE: FUN DIVERGENCE THAT FEELS RIGHT
Rat Queens One-Shot: Neon Static, takes us to a different setting for the Queens, but retains the fun and irreverent humor of the monthly. Great book to pick up, and I’d love to see them in other settings.