This volume collects the first five comics in the Rat Queens series. I couldn't find much in the way of a description or review of the Rat Queens, so I went right to this collection to get the full story.
Well, the bottom line is that this is the first sword-and-sorcery action comic collection I've seen, ever, that is really and truly funny. The four Rat Queens, a band of maiden mercenaries, are, more or less: 1) Dee, a reformed squid cult member, 2) Hannah, conjurer and the daughter of a twisted pair of necromancers, 3) Betty, who acts like an airhead party girl, and 4) Violet, who uses her sword ironically.
Early on the four are sprung from jail, in which they've been held because of excessive brawling and troublemaking, and sent away to clean out a goblin cave. On the way the Queens get very upset with Betty when they find out that all she has packed in the food bag is candy and drugs. That sort of gives you an idea of this series' vibe.
That said, the real plot is that someone is trying to wipe out all of the mercenary bands in town, including the Rat Queens. It's time for them to take matters into their own hands. Actually, it's always that time. The rest of the story, (no SPOILERS here), is all mayhem and wisecracks.
Each of the Queens has personality to spare. This is not one of those comics where all of the characters look alike and each figure has the same expression no matter what's going on. These are well drawn and expressive characters, with clean and clear action sequences and a nice sense of movement and place. The cursing is very creative and the insults that get hurled all over are even more creative. This is funny, bawdy, ripe stuff which, if anything, is highlighted by a few quieter and more touching scenes. Each Queen has an interesting backstory which is teased out through the tale. By the end you have four very distinct and engaging characters, to whom you feel a real connection. How often can you say that about a comic series?
So, this is a collection with energy and wit and action to burn, and a very nice find. It accomplishes what most buddy-action efforts can only attempt - memorable and engaging characters, a real sense of camaraderie, a driving narrative, and real wit. I'll remember and look for further Rat Queen adventures.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.