Graphic Novel Twofer – Rat Queens, Vol. 2 / Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Read my review of volume:
1. Sass & Sorcery
Length: 136 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Started/Finished: 11 June 2015
Where did it come from? Bought from Amazon.
Why do I have it? I liked Volume 1 well enough that I bought this one sight unseen.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 05 June 2015.
Summary: The mercenary band of the Rat Queens – Hannah the elven mage, Dee the atheist cleric, Violet the rebellious dwarf, and Betty the mushroom-and-candy-loving smidgen – are celebrating their recent victory in saving the town of Palisade… but of course, before too long, it’s in danger again. Someone has stolen a ceremonial death mask that allows the wearer to summon terrifying beings from another dimension, kidnapped Sawyer, and unleashed the demons on Palisade, and it’s up to the Rat Queens to stop them… somehow.
Review: This series is just so much fun. It’s funny, there’s plenty of good action, the characters are fantastic, and there’s some actual nuggets of real emotion mixed in with all the fighting and swearing and snarking and sex. The worldbuilding in this one was not entirely cohesive – it boils down to “this mask plus these spells allow someone to summon these nasty sky squids that kill everyone but also have some kind of time-warping effect so that we can cram in a bunch of flashbacks,” but in the book it’s dressed up in a lot more arcane blathering that didn’t entirely make sense. But as much as I usually love good cohesive worldbuilding, I didn’t really mind that this one didn’t quite connect, because what we got was so good. It was admittedly a little disorienting – we get a full issue of Violet’s backstory, and then half an issue of Hannah’s, before the time distortion thing is explained – but I loved the flashbacks and the perspective they provide on the characters, so I just kind of threw my hands up and went along for the ride. Because really, the best thing about Rat Queens is the characters and their relationships with each other, and there’s plenty of that to go around.
This book is split between two artists; Roc Upchurch for the first few issues and Stjepan Sejic for the last two. I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of the switch – maybe because I was used to Upchurch’s portrayal of the characters from Volume 1, but Sejic’s versions didn’t look quite right to me. Dee and Violet are pretty close, but Hannah looks off, and Betty is totally different across the artists. (Not that Betty has a lot to do in the big fight at the end, but whenever she showed up, she looked strange to me.) Sejic’s art was fine in its own right, but the shift in the characters definitely threw me off. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
(As a side note, I find Orc Dave kind of hot. That’s weird, right? I feel like that’s a little weird. But he totally is. I mean, c’mon, look at that. I also discovered, while searching for that image, a number of Orc Dave cosplayers, which makes me so happy.)
Recommendation: This volume is relatively self-contained, but why deny yourself the fun of reading Volume 1? If you like fantasy adventure and kick-ass women, you should definitely be reading this series.
34. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks (2013)
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Started/Finished: 22 June 2015
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I recognized Faith Erin Hicks’s name from Friends with Boys.
Summary: Charlie and Nate are neighbors and unlikely friends – Charlie is the head of the basketball team, and generally laid-back and popular (“the friendly jock”), while Nate is the neurotic head of the school robotics club. They’re thrown into sudden opposition in the student council elections – there’s money in the school budget that the cheerleaders want for new uniforms, so the cheerleaders throw their support behind a largely unwilling Charlie, while Nate wants that money to send the robotics club to a battle robot competition. While things get heated between the two erstwhile friends, the two groups will ultimately have to work together to accomplish their goals – if they don’t kill each other first.
Review: This was a fun, fast read; a story about high school popularity that didn’t exactly tread new ground (Charlie felt very, very similar to Finn from “Glee”, among other similarities) but has a good heart, some good art (I really like Faith Erin Hicks’s way of drawing characters and conveying emotion), some interesting family and interpersonal relationship issues, and also chainsaw-wielding robots. I did find it kind of odd that for a collaboration between two women, both of the main characters were men, and that this book only barely passed the Bechdel test. (Holly, the head cheerleader, and Joanna, a robotics club member who is their ace driver at competitions, are both named, but only rarely speak to each other… but at least it was about the robot.) But on the flip side of that, both Holly and Joanna are solid female characters – Holly’s a little bit of a cliché head cheerleader, but she’s also smart and efficient and has her act together, and Joanna’s a little bit of the nerd-who-doesn’t-know-how-cute-she-is cliché, but she is also unapologetically awesome at (and passionate about) robotics. So, all in all, while this wasn’t revolutionary, it was definitely a fun and sweet (if somewhat predictable) read. 4 out of 5 stars.
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