And now for something a little different, a graphic story/comic featuring a group of four female mercenaries who are tough, sassy, smart, funny, like to drink and eat and carouse, and know how to handle weaponry and magic. Rat Queens, Volume One: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis Wiebe is a hoot and a half.

There is Betty, a Smidgin thief. I’m not sure what a Smidgin is, but she’s little and cute, great at breaking and entering, and enjoys being tossed at goblins, swords blazing. There is Dee, a former acolyte of N’rygoth, a giant flying squid. Dee is black, has some good magic, a great purple and black outfit and awesome thigh-high boots. Violet is a solidly built redhead with great armor and big attitude. Turns out she is a Dwarf who shaved her beard off and left her family. We aren’t sure why she left her family but I suspect in later stories we might find out. And finally, there is the leader of the group, Hannah, who is a magic user and, I believe, an Elf, but don’t quote me on that. She’s tall and curvy and looks a bit like Betty Page.

The Rat Queens and four other mercenary groups have been banned from the town of Palisade after their last pub brawl unless they all perform assigned services to the city. The Rat Queens are tasked with clearing out a goblin cave. Peaches are assigned to empty a camp of bandits. The Four Daves have to go deal with the restless dead at the cemetery. The Brother Ponies (four big, brawny men with long ponytails) are given the job of getting rid of the ogre. And finally, Obsidian Darkness, who look sort of like goth ninja elves, have to clean the toilets at the military barracks.

The jobs turn out to be a setup. The Rat Queens survive, a bit battered and bruised, but all in one piece. The other groups aren’t all so lucky. Who is behind the setup to have them killed? Will the Rat Queens and the remaining mercenaries from the other groups be able to stop brawling long enough to band together and save the city of Palisade? Will Betty and the cute Fay with the nose ring hook up? Will Dee be able to get her nose out a book and get over her social anxiety long enough to realize she has a few admirers? What’s with all the bluebirds in one of the Four Daves’ beards?

Part of the fun of this book is not just the women kicking ass, but that they are friends and care about each other without having to go shopping for new shoes or weep together over a bucket of ice cream. There are also many moments about accepting other people for who they are, getting past being different and seeing the individual instead of the Zombie or the Dwarf. And it’s just plain silly fun. There is currently only one volume. It looks like volume two will be out in May. Yay!

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