Rat Queens #8
Kurtis J. Wiebe (writer), Roc Upchurch (art/colours)
Image Comics | Shadowline Productions
Apparently Wiebe went and had himself a baby girl, Willow Kate—so I suppose we can forgive him for the delay in getting Rat Queens #8 into our impatiently waiting hands. Congratulations, Mr. Wiebe! Looking forward to the new baby-sized Rat Queens attire!
In the previous issue, our potty-mouthed mercenaries are paid a visit by Dee’s husband, Kiah, who warns them that the Haruspex Requiem was stolen from their people. What the fuck is the Haruspex Requiem, you ask? Fortunately, Hannah asks the same question, and we learn that it is the ceremonial death mask that is probably being worn by that guy busy torturing Sawyer. He’s also probably responsible for the giant tentacle monster descending upon the people of Palisade.
But issue #8 takes a break from the tentacles of doooom to bring me what I have been waiting eight issues to see: Violet’s beard.
The ladies of the Rat Queens group are all fascinating, and of course we want to learn more about them. Violet is the first to get a full “origin story” treatment with an entire issue dedicated to a defining moment in her life. Following up on a visit from her twin brother, Barrie, in an earlier issue, we now get to see why Violet abandoned her Blackforge clan for the mercenary life. There are some typical goings on here with Violet feeling that her father treats her inadequately in the great tournament hosted by her clan. She wants to fight in the tournament, but, instead, she has to model her father’s newly crafted armour. She is ogled by some of the attendees, who toss lewd comments in her direction, until she finally knocks one of them the fuck out.
As I said, this is fairly typical—but there are subtle differences in Violet’s story. First of all, she is not merely left to model a princess dress. She’s wearing full armour and gets to show its combat effectiveness (albeit against a wooden target), because no one, including her father, doubts her physical capabilities and prowess. Barrie could well be the one that models the armour while Violet gets to compete in the tournament, but their roles have already been established and there is no going against tradition. Violet grudgingly accepts this until a particular competitor catches her eye—not because that competitor is a woman, but because she is a woman who has shaved her beard.
The events of the day set Violet on her path of rebellion, but it isn’t a rage against the parental units. Her father isn’t offended by her attack on his guests, believing the guests were deserving, and—more importantly—her mother accepts Violet’s further actions with bittersweet pride over her daughter growing up.
This is a much quieter issue than we’re used to—it doesn’t have a whole lot of action. Instead, Upchurch gets to focus on emotion, of which Violet has a lot of as she struggles against the traditions that bind her to her family and her people. This is, undoubtedly, Violet’s story, and the art keeps almost every single panel focused on her or that which is important to her. Backgrounds and even the people in them are muted in both colour and definition.
But this is only a flashback. We’ve still got a giant tentacle monster to contend with, and we’re flung back into that reality as harshly as Violet is when she wakes up from whatever has befallen her. But alas, now we have to wait until the next issue to find out what that is! No more adorable Rat Queen babies till then, Mr. Wiebe! 😉