Review: Rat Queens Special: Orc Dave #1
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Art: Max Dunbar
Colours: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Micah Myers
Publisher: Image Comics
With Rat Queens, Image have a title that crosses genres and as a result, pulls in fans from all over. It follows the exploits of a gaggle of hardy women who romp their way through adventure after adventure, all centred around their medieval town of Palisade. This special throws the spotlight on returning character, Dave the Orc, not to be confused with the three other Daves that appear in the series. It plots his relationship with his father to the point where he is handed the job of master guardian of the forest, a title he has been groomed for since birth. Throw a drunken gaggle of rat queens, not to mention a ravenous beast, into the mix and you’ve got the one shot special down to a tee.
The writing throughout is measured and somber. The notion of danger in the forest is subtly introduced but quickly gains wind as father and son traipse the well worn path of forest guardians. In true fantasy style, nothing can be taken for granted and we are soon introduced to talking trees, wily wood creatures and singing waterfalls. The plot is edged along with the introduction of the queens but I couldn’t help wonder why they were necessary. Yes, it’s their name on the cover but, like other successful single issue add-ons, we don’t always have to do the expected. Either way, the wild women add a sense of fun and boisterousness largely missing from Dave’s life; and I think he liked it. This does give us a rare insight into his character’s dna and also allows us to fit his other appearances around what we learn about him here, nicely. The father-son relationship is, of course, a very human story and will ring all too true with at least some of the readers out there. As always, it’s the humanity that ties fantasy stories together and this is no exception, managing to fit more feeling into one issue than some other title try, and fail, to do over a series.
Art-wise, this book won’t disappoint regular readers or new fantasy fans alike. The woods take on a life of their own and the larger spread frames look great. I personally would have liked to have seen some more detail in the lesser frames but overall Dunbar and Bonvillain have done a sterling job. The colouring in particular has stand-out moments, such as the waterfall in the opening, where pastels and forest hues mesh to create a truly magical forest pool; one fit for any orc. The characters themselves all have a strong identity and the queens themselves are depicted with energy – not bad considering their state of health.
All-in-all, a solid backstory, of sorts, and a welcomed insight into a gentle but underused supporting character. For fantasy fans and anyone thinking of entering the Rat Queens’ world. In shops now.
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Review written by Arun S.
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