Review - Rat Queens Special: Braga #1

"If they'd just accepted me for who I was."

It's hard enough being next in line to lead a tribe of orcs without having to contend with internal questions. Those internal questions can make choices that much more difficult, regardless of what they're about. In Rat Queens Special: Braga #1 from Image Comics, one Orc has a very tough choice to make between personal happiness and leading the tribe. The issue is written by Kurtis J. Wiebe, illustrated by Tess Fowler and lettered by Ed Brisson.

Before joining the Peaches, Braga was destined to become the greatest leader of her people. But a life changing decision proved too controversial for even her most devout followers. A former life paved on the bodies of her enemies left behind...what choice was worth losing everything?

Wiebe characterizes Broog in every manner one would expect of an Orcish warrior. He's fierce on the battlefield, next in line to lead his Orc tribe and someone a little unsure of his true gender. That's where Rat Queens Special: Braga #1 operates, but Wiebe doesn't let that point overtake the rest of the book. It would've been easy for the story to become a statement on the matter, but instead Wiebe allows Broog's conscious to shine through as he grapples to reconcile his sense of familiar duty with his own desires. There's a macho culture pervasive throughout (especially so in militaristic societies), so it's fascinating to pursue a story like Wiebe does in Rat Queens Special: Braga #1.

Fowler's illustrations are especially poignant in the context of the subject matter. Braga is first introduced to the reader at the beginning and her physical similarities to Broog in the past are striking. Fowler does a great job with this, ensuring that the reader gets the complete picture of what's going on. Many of the fight scenes are especially brutal, which Fowler uses to great effect as a means of emphasizing the brutality of Orcish tribes. The book has an overarching dark feel to it that is really only brightened by splashes of red blood here and there.

Rat Queens Special: Braga #1 is a very powerful book that touches on a rather intriguing topic. Positioning the decision as being made by an Orc is imaginative and relies on the mythos of Orcs as a means of bolstering the narrative itself. Wiebe does a great job of exploring Braga's past, framing his current lifestyle and and life choices. Fowler's illustrations effectively capture the Orc look and effectively compare and contrast Braga with Broog, both physically and mentally. Rat Queens Special: Braga #1 is a book that has a very clear message delivered rather subtly, effectively taking on a much larger meaning in the grand scheme of things.

Rat Queens Special: Braga #1 is in stores now with interiors below.