Posts Tagged ‘Old Lady Bernadette’

If I was the meteorologist of Palisade, I’d definitely start rethinking my career options. A rainstorm is one thing, but giant tentacled elder gods? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that isn’t in the job description. Or maybe it is; this is Palisade after all. More importantly, this is Rat Queens.RatQueens_07-1

After finding the missing Bernadette wandering the streets with her still scary as all hell eyes, Hannah takes her back to the Rat Queens’ home to figure out what happened to her despite the fact that she’s still a complete bitch and tried to have the Queens killed. At Casa de Rat Queens, Dee and her husband, Mezikiah, awkwardly catchup. Though he’s glad to see that she’s thriving in Palisade with her friends, there’s a measure of expectation from Kiah that Dee will figure things out and return to their religious community. Because it definitely isn’t a cult. It’s totally a cult. However, Kiah’s visit is two-fold. It seems as though their people were visited by Gerrig Lake who stole an important artifact, the Haruspex Requiem – a death mask containing all the knowledge of every high priest of Dee and Kiah’s people. His reasons for taking the mask? Revenge, of course. Revenge on Palisade and on Sawyer in particular.

The past, it seems, is creeping up on everyone in Rat Queens. Prior to reaching out a helping hand to Bernadette, Hannah and Tizzie get into a fairly heated argument that speaks to a darker past for the rockabilly mage; she’s the only one in Palisade capable of using darker magic, her parents are necromancers, and she’s still using Necrius as part of her spell-casting. We’ve already seen Hannah tap into her darker side during the battle with the trolls and Betty’s concern for how scary it was to see her so full of rage, so it’s very possible we could be seeing a heel-turn from Hannah if she goes completely to the Dark Side. Sawyer and Dee’s pasts tangentially cross paths through the involvement of Gerrig Lake, but only because Sawyer’s past as an assassin caused the death of Gerrig’s wife, the only bright spot in his life in Palisade.

Dee’s religious background, however, has become integral to the plot as all hell breaks loose. Kurtis J. Wiebe has repeatedly stated that Dee’s backstory reflects his own upbringing in a small, religious town and through Dee he explores the complicated relationship people have with religion. Dee left her home and family to find herself separate from the religious community. Kiah, in his own way, tempts her with letters from her mother, but he also points out that Dee wears the markings of their religion, which she didn’t have when she left. If Dee is so skeptical of the tenets of her people and the purpose of their religious practices, then why did she willingly take on the markings of N’Rygoth?

As a lapsed Catholic, I can say that I understand the contradictions inherent in separating yourself from religion yet still finding pieces of it to latch on to. When our lives, our families, are tied up in a specific belief system, and we break away, there’s still a part of us that remains attached. I may not go to church anymore, and I question A LOT of things about religion in general, but I still have my rosary, I remember the prayers, I have tattoos featuring crosses, and sometimes I even try to stick to things like Lent. Like it or not, my religious background isn’t something I can entirely separate myself from. Dee, as far as I know, is in a similar position, and she’s also quick to point out tumblr_n7qv3hNd381rz6qqno5_1280to Kiah that their religion is now being used to torture and maim. But Kiah counters with the fact that their gods are neutral and it’s the actions of mortals that manifests evil. In this case, evil literally manifests in the form of a tentacled creature from the abyss. We have our gods, they have theirs, but it’s nice to know that Wiebe doesn’t blame religion so much as he blames the people who corrupt and abuse it for their own purposes.

On the lighter side of things, Betty is high as fuck and it is glorious! Just that look in her eyes as she hallucinates her candy dream date is hilarious and it provides a welcome interlude in a pretty dark portion of the story, though I expect it to get darker. It’s one of the aspects of Rat Queens that I truly love. The characters and the story aren’t fighting each other. There’s equally as much time devoted to progressing the plot as there is making sure the characters react in their own way. Cracking jokes, eating candy people, it all fits regardless of the looming danger.

And because there’s no way to fit this into the flow of the review organically, just know that Lola’s fight scene is all kinds of awesome. Girl has some skills, I tell ya. Very nice, Roc Upchurch. Very nice!

Rating – 10/10

Final Thoughts: The forecast for Palisade is rain, wind, and a tentacled elder god bent on destruction. Remember to bring an umbrella.

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ratqueens03_coverThis was previously posted at Word of the Nerd on November 28th.

If you want to kill the Rat Queens, you’d better be sure to get it right the first time otherwise there’s no stopping them from uncovering your fiendish plot. Like any good quest, even an insular one, there’s a process of discovery. What starts as something as simple as killing a bunch of trolls quickly turns into a secondary quest to find out why the trolls were there in the first place, leading the adventuring party further and further down the rabbit hole until the true plot comes to light. Rat Queens #3 manages to solve the mystery but does so in a way that is organic and true to its cast of kickass female characters.

Imprisoned, albeit briefly, for impersonating Sawyer in an attempt to implicate Mayor Kane in the murders of several adventuring parties in Palisade, Hannah and the real Sawyer spend some time comparing notes on the subject. While Hannah is ready to put all the blame on Kane, Sawyer did some digging of his own and reports that the Merchant’s Guild was responsible for purchasing the quests that got the other parties killed and nearly killed the Rat Queens. With this new information, the Queens send Betty and Dee to get a read on the leader of the Merchant’s Guild, Mr. Lake, but Betty finds, in a very Sherlockian way, that while the man himself may not be behind the purchase of the quests meant to kill them, he might have some information worth stealing that could shed more light on the mystery. Breaking into Lake’s office, Betty finds a number of scrolls, one of which is a loan from Old Lady Bernadette for damages caused by the Queens. Resolved to make right an apologize to the woman they’ve treated poorly in the course of their drunken evenings of revelry and brawling, Betty discovers that there’s more to Old Lady Bernadette than the Queens thought. For one thing, she’s only thirty-nine!

Filling in the spaces in between the main story, though it’s hardly filler, Kurtis J. Wiebe devotes a lot of this issue to fleshing out the personal lives of the Queens. Hannah and Sawyer’s talk while she’s imprisoned is an opportunity to ground Hannah a bit more, humanizing her through the obviously failed relationship with Sawyer and the complications that come with working around someone she obviously cared about and who obviously cared, and still cares, about her. Sawyer plainly states that Hannah’s presence in Palisade keeps it from being paradise, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Betty tries to rekindle the love connection she had just prior to the beginning of the book, bringing flowers and an apology to the girl who Hannah punched over a joke taken too far. Unfortunately, Betty’s former lover is just that. She’s unwilling to take Betty back because of the friends she associates with, specifically Hannah, but leaves the door open should Betty decide to leave her friends Hannah and Sawyerbehind. Violet, during a vigorous training session, gets a visit from her twin brother, Barrie Blackforge, who believes it’s time she ended her little journey of self-discovery. Violet responds appropriately by sending him home with his broken sword between his legs. Also, apparently Violet had a beard. All of this continues to be rendered beautifully by Roc Upchurch’s art. Wiebe and Upchurch seem to feed off each other with Wiebe’s humor and excellent storytelling fueling the hilarious and heart-breaking situations of all four Queens.

The only one with very little character development is Dee, which is a shame because all of the moments I previously described served to highlight the complicated lives of our heroines. This is hardly your garden variety fantasy story. The characters function as real people and Wiebe does a remarkable job of highlighting their unique personalities while simultaneously uniting them through a shared sense of wit and humor. Hopefully Dee will get some more backstory, but we are treated to a nice blurb about her former life as an elder god’s acolyte. The thoroughfare in the narrative is that the Queens are a team and, more importantly, friends. They’re willing to stick together even if it costs them severed relationships with friends, family, and lovers. Unfortunately, their friendship might have caused something a bit more high stakes to occur as well.

Final Thoughts: Old Lady Bernadette is such a B. I mean, really. You have no idea.