About the Book

Title: Sass & Sorcery (Rat Queens #1)
Published: 2014
Series: Rat Queens
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Cover Story: D&D: Spice Girls Edition
BFF Charm: Platinum Edition
Talky Talk: Joss Whedon Sailor-Mouth
Arty Art:  Spandex Not Required
Bonus Factors: Girl Power, Cosplay, Diversity
Relationship Status: Putting The One True Ring On It

Cover Story: Dungeons & Dragons: Spice Girls Edition

If you’re a relative comic newbie like myself, then you might not know that comics can have multiple covers for the same issue. When 5-6 monthly issues are out they’re repackaged into “trade editions” and given yet another new cover, while ALSO including all the previous covers and alternate covers. ALL THE COVERS.

I heart this cover so much. It tells you all you need to know: these women are badass, have each others backs and aren’t afraid of some stupid gigantic dragon.

The Deal

The Rat Queens are a group of mercenaries in the fantasy town of Palisade. Hannah is the leader but is also kind of an asshole. She’s an elven mage whose parents are necromancers, doesn’t suffer fools and has her heart locked up airtight. Dee is a lapsed Worshipper of the God N’Rygoth (a giant flying squid) who can heal and also has severe social anxiety. Violet is the powerhouse of the Rat Queens as far as strength/weaponry goes; she’s a dwarf warrior who’s also a bit of a hipster. (She shaved off her beard way before the OTHER female dwarves starting doing it.) Betty is a smidgen (Hobbit?) thief who is the real heart of the group and also likes girls.

There are several groups of mercenaries in Palisade, all tasked with keeping the town safe along with the City Guard. The Mayor is sick of their shenanigans (bar brawls, public drunkenness, general tomfoolery and the like) and so he sends them all out on quests as punishment. The Queens soon realize that they’ve been set up and dodge an assassination attempt (as well as the fists and feet of a giant, smelly troll) and trudge back to Palisade looking for answers.

BFF Charm: Platinum Edition

BFF platinum charm

YOU GUYS. My friend recommended this series to me and I am CRAZY IN LOVE with it. I breathe a huge sigh of relief whenever there’s a girl or woman in a comic that isn’t at Red Sonja-level of ridiculousness with their uniform/costume (uh, who the hell can slay evildoers or ride a horse wearing a string bikini and thigh-high boots? IN THE SNOW?) but from the first page I knew that I was going to be full-on besties with all four of these broads. They drink, do drugs, fight, swear, have sex, don’t take any nonsense and best of all? Even if they’re screaming at each other on one page, you know they still have each others backs. ALWAYS.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s SWOON in Rat Queens, however I will say that there’s quite a lot of hanky. Also, panky. Of the gay, straight and inter-species variety. Have I mentioned that this really isn’t for kids? I feel like I should mention that.

Talky Talk: Joss Whedon Sailor-Mouth

Just imagine what Buffy the Vampire Slayer would’ve sounded like if it was on HBO. That will give you a pretty good idea of what the dialogue is like. Hilarious and whip-smart, the four women share a common language that only besties can share. And although Rat Queens is set in a D&D inspired fantasy realm, the language and humor are completely modern, mocking the seriousness of the usual High Fantasy tropes.

Arty Art: No Spandex Required

I don’t have to tell y’all how ludicrous the portrayal of women in comics is, right? I mean, we can all agree that for a very long time (and sadly, even now most of the time) women in comics were drawn for the audience (men) that read them. Publishers believed that men weren’t really interested in realistic and complex portrayals of women. This is a huge part of what put me off really delving into superhero comics for a long time, even though I’ve always loved the TV shows and movies rooted in these worlds.

Thankfully the winds are changing and now we have several women writing for prominent comics. Gail Simone has written for several, including Birds of PreyWonder Woman and is finishing up her run penning Batgirl. Kelly Sue DeConnick has been writing Captain Marvel since 2012 and now we have G. Willow Wilson (who wrote the FYA fave Alif the Unseen) penning the new Ms. Marvel! It’s a good time to be a woman who loves comics, ladies.

Illustrator Roc Upchurch draws different body types for all of the Queens, and not just “big boobs/bigger boobs” either. Not a deep-cut spandex unitard in sight! THANK YOU JESUS. He’s also a master of drawing the Withering Stare that all of the Queens dish out on a regular basis. This alone deserves all of our appreciation.

Bonus Factor: Girl Power

Raised fists in different skin tones wearing nail polish

I feel like this is pretty obvious considering they slay monsters and baddies for a living, but I also found out that the idea for Rat Queens originally germinated as an All-Female Goblin Punk Band. (Uh, spinoff please?)

Bonus Factor: Cosplay

The fan reactions to Rat Queens has been overwhelmingly positive, which can only mean one thing – costuming yourself as your favorite Queen for your nearest con. WIN.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

Fantasy/comic fans have “traditionalists” (sad old white guys who get their panties in a wad over, say, Captain America being recast as African American, or Thor being a woman) so it’s nice to see not just a band of women but a band of very different women.

Relationship Status: Putting The One True Ring On It

Rat Queens, I love you so much that I want you to be my PRECIOUS. I’m in awe of your asskicking, smart-mouthing, band of amazing. You are a +20 dice roll of awesome. You will find me at my local comic store every month waiting to get my grubby mitts on your next issue.

FTC Full Disclosure: I bought my own copy at my local comic store. I received neither Mai Tais nor money for this review (dammit!). Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery is available now.

About the Contributor:

Amanda Reid is an East Coast girl living in California who will never stop missing a true autumn. She’s a bookseller who specializes in kid and teen lit, and she bakes a damn fine pie.


This post was written by a guest writer or former contributor for Forever Young Adult.