Dec 112014
 

If you missed it, Roc Upchurch was removed from the Image Comics family following domestic abuse charges against his wife. Kurtis Wiebe (writer for Rat Queens) announced shortly after the news broke that Rat Queens would continue and that they were looking for a new artist to take over for Roc. This morning, Image broke the news that Stjepan Sejic will be taking over illustrating our favorite ladies of mischief and their wonderful escapades.

Stjepan previously worked on Sunstone, an Amazon #1 bestseller.

Welcome to Rat Queens, Stjepan Sejic

Welcome to Rat Queens, Stjepan Sejic

Though I loved Roc’s art style for Rat Queens, I think that Image and Kurtis made the right choice and I am very excited to see what Stjepan does with Violet, Hannah, Dee and Betty. Just keep them each their unique, kick-ass style and I will get behind it.

Image’s Announcement can be found here: https://imagecomics.com/content/view/image-comics-shadowline-welcomes-new-artist-on-rat-queens

Sep 282014
 

We have hit a critical period in the online gaming community, which happens to overlap with a similar discussion going on within the internet community and even the world at large. That conversation is about the rights of female gamers and members of online communities to feel safe and comfortable with their fellow gamers. We have increasingly seen “battle lines” drawn, with videos such as the ones by Anita Sarkeesian calling for equal rights to be then viciously attacked online; with female celebrities accounts broken into and nude photos released; and finally with the Emma Watson United Nations address last week calling for men and women to stand up for equality. There has been no better time to examine where we are and where we would like to see our community go. There is a vocal minority of men online who are fighting these changes, and who are feeling attacked in turn, and we need to understand that we are in this together, regardless of sex, and together we can improve and grow this hobby.

The fact of the matter is, roughly half of all gamers and internet users are women (surprise, right?). For so long gaming has been seen as a male-dominated hobby, and maybe in it’s infancy it was, but the facts no longer support a male-dominated scene. In spite of this, many if not most female gamers have given voice to many sexist practices and deep-seated biases still visibly present. This is seen in real life as well, but most acutely from the gaming sector. The anonymity of the internet and most online lobbies creates an atmosphere where it is easy to look down upon, be dismissive, or even angry at, a perceived minority. I think that it is likely a majority of male gamers have witnessed this happening, and would be willing to admit it is a problem and would like to see change, but don’t know what to do or even think it’s being “overblown”. There is also a very vocal group of male gamers who fight against calls for equality, saying it is merely feminist attacks on men, and tend to become increasingly hostile with any and all recommendations for change.

Of course some of what we hear is extreme, from both sides. What should be very clear however, is a majority of female gamers have seen or experienced this sort of behavior, some many times over. I know that I have heard accounts from friends of treatment they have received, or how a specific games portrayal of a female character was poor or even insulting. This is often exacerbated by long-standing sexist practices women start seeing from childhood. Drawing lines in the sand and pointing fingers is simply causing each to grow farther and farther apart. We have to be able to take these accounts seriously, and have to be willing to see what we can do to help fix them. All this takes is respect and understanding, accepting that there could be a problem and be willing to listen to alternatives, and standing up to those who are creating the problems. This can lead to more inclusive, and realistic, gaming experiences and communities, which is in everyone’s interests.

Of course this is all coming at a crucial transitional period for male gamers as well. Our generation has started questioning what traditional ideas of masculinity and “maleness” actually are. Gaming is central to this discussion, as it is only recently becoming more accepted that gaming is a healthy and fulfilling hobby for adults as well as children, while many still scoff at such an idea and look down upon our hobby. With all the changes men are facing, it can be extremely easy to be dismissive when viewing problems faced by women, as we are already defensive about gaming in general. Just remember, we are all facing problems and overcoming hurdles, and we can get through them faster by helping one another with our problems. Gamers have more in common with other gamers, male or female, and we have to understand that fighting amongst ourselves only weakens our position to the “traditional” world view. Gaming moves incredibly fast, and it’s time we agree that there is no place for hatred, bigotry, sexism, racism, or any other -ism in such an important aspect of our lives. For gaming to grow and gain mainstream acceptance, we have to fight against these ideas and fight for equality, for every gamer and every person.

I know for many of you this will be preaching to the choir. For the others, who will be apt to say that I have been “taken in” or am overblowing the issues, please reconsider the accounts of your friends and family, and examine your own behaviour. We can only move forward by admitting that we may have to change and accept other groups, no matter how hard that may seem to be. If men and women together can fight for equality and understand one anothers troubles and differences, we can create a lasting community that is filled with realistic and relatable characters, and maybe learn something about ourselves in the process.

 

Sep 272014
 
HFS

“…if not now, then when?”, asked Emma Watson, in a speech she gave at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City last Saturday. Surely, the quote is one that many of us have heard in our lives, one that is meant to foster courage in the face of fear and uncertainty, to prompt a feeling of personal responsibility when presented with an imposing task. Watson, the UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, introduced the quote near the end of her speech, when she admitted that she had been quite nervous prior to her speech.

And why shouldn’t she be nervous? As a graduate of an International Relations program, the prospect of giving a speech at the UN is simultaneously exciting and incredibly intimidating one. But, in such a situation, my nervousness would stem only from the pressure I placed on myself, whereas Watson was likely nervous for additional, more serious reasons. She was introducing a UN campaign called HeForShe - “A Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality,” and if you have already read Mystie’s and/or Cassi’s posts on TLo42, or, really, if you have been following the news at all for the past few weeks, then you know that it is a frightening time for women. Hackers recently stole and released personal, nude photos of several prominent female celebrities; Anita Sarkeesian was forced from her home after receiving death threats for, well, doing nothing wrong at all (I refuse to craft a sentence that even begins to describe a “rationale” for these threats); several of Sarkeesian’s supporters have been similarly targeted. And, of course, this does not even include the sexual abuse and discrimination women continue to experience on a daily basis. Plain and simple, women are, at the very least, not afforded the same opportunities as men anywhere in the world. At worst, they are explicitly denied basic human rights. Sadly, as Watson noted in her speech, “No country in the world can yet say that they achieved gender equality.” Indeed, Watson’s deeds did not go unpunished. She, too, was threatened with a leak of personal nude photos (and, no, the fact that the stunt may have been fake does not diminish the meaning of the underlying threat).

This reality is why another quote Emma Watson used in her speech is so important to me: “Statesman Edmund Burke said all that is need for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.” All I have to do to allow the denial of human rights to women to continue is to do nothing. Combined with her questions of “If not me, then who?” and “If not now, then when?”, the quote has provided an incredibly strong motivator for myself and men around the world to take this opportunity to speak out, stand up, and offer our support in the fight to secure an equal future for men and women alike.

There can no longer be any question as to who this issue affects or involves, either. Watson extended what she called a formal invitation to men to participate in the conversation, explaining that “men don’t have the benefits of equality, either.” And while I’m not personally inclined to complain about the male sex lacking in equality in the face of recent events, I’d be flat-out lying if I said that I hadn’t taken notice of the cultural norms affecting men, as well: we are supposed to be strong – even aggressive – and keep our emotions in check, to mention only a small subset of the cultural pressures men face. And as Watson so rightfully said, this has an immediate consequence of shaping the norms that affect women.

In the past, I struggled with identifying the best way to get involved and show my support for women’s rights, other than to continually try to participate in conversations that make me consider the topic on a regular basis; thanks to my wife and the wonderful friends we have that make up TLo42, these conversations usually crop up often enough to meet that requirement. But I recently realized that the current climate in gaming and the world in general, as caustic as it may be, demands only the simplest action as a first step – and I’ll leave it to Slate writer Phil Plait to put it in words (emphasis mine):

This isn’t about [loathsome knuckle-dragging Men’s Rights Advocates and their ilk]. It’s about women, and men supporting them. It’s about all of us. And doing this isn’t white-knighting, it isn’t mansplaining, and it isn’t weak, or unmanly. It is, quite simply, doing what’s right and standing up for others.

I have no claim to solutions for these problems; I cannot hope to know how to stop the hatred and violence and oppression and othering of women on the Internet and in the world.

But I know how to stand up for my friends. I know how to write, and how to make myself heard. And I can hope that other men will do this as well, because while I don’t know the whole solution, I know a part of it, a significant part of it, is just showing that we are listening, that we care, and we want to help.

And that’s why I stand with Emma Watson.

I, too, intend to do what’s right. I, too, am going to stand up for others. I, too, stand with Emma Watson. And Anita Sarkeesian. And women everywhere. And I stand with the 148, 137 other men who have already visited heforshe.org (at the time of my commitment) and resolved to support them. That’s one of the most beautiful things about HeForShe: it’s so simple. So, my fellow men and boys, make yourself heard, be counted as a HeForShe, as I have:

HeForShe

 

The fight will go on, probably, sadly, for years to come. But this is where we make our initial stand. Click the picture above to head over to heforshe.org. Because, if not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Sep 262014
 

When news first broke of the massive amounts of celebrity nude photos leaked, a friend made an interesting point to me:

If this had happened even just a few years ago, all that would have happened is everyone would have brushed it off. Some would have snached up tabloids in line at the grocery store and really no one would have thought twice about it. Now we’re discussing violation of privacy and women’s rights.

What’s changed?

Recently, video games had a really, really tough week. Anita Sarkeesian – creator of the blog Feminist Frequency and a video series called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, released a video discussing the use of of woman–and violence against women–as backgrounds or plot drivers in video games. For this she was was abused online, threatened and forced out of her home by said threats. Along the same lines, many video game developers, writers and various people in the industry were and are facing similar treatment.

But why are we talking about this now?

Haven’t video games have always been like this? Isn’t this what makes media what it is? Why should we change something that has worked for years?

The short answer, of course, is because I think we can do better than that.

There has been a lot of talk about whether Sarkeesian and others were right or wrong in their arguments, whether sexsism in video games or media exists, whether this abuse is a real issue, is being overblown, or worse – threats against these women are being faked. (update, in this case I don’t mean threats like releasing nude photos are faked, because apparently in that case they were, but people expletive twitter attacks were faked or photoshopped.)

Yet the positive side to all this and what’s important and what’s different from those few years ago is that we’re talking about this. People are standing up and saying we can do better than this.

Not only do I feel this is important for the progression of woman in the field of video games or the media, but for the actual mediums as well. It’s easy to make the argument that we get video games that uses classic tropes that are just fine using classic video game tropes. But by thinking outside the box and challenging the status quo, maybe we can get a better video game.

But change is difficult, and to make this change, we’re going to have to go through a lot more push back and a lot more trolls. In an article regarding this topic, in an opinion article by polygon, writer Chris Plante points out:

“One side [of this argument] has folded its arms, slumped its shoulders while pouting like an obstinate child that has learned they are getting a little brother or sister but wants to remain the singular focus of their parents’ affection.”

There will probably always be the argument that this isn’t really an issue. That without these women tropes in video games the storylines wouldn’t be the same (who will the hero save if not the damsel in distress?). That women should just deal with it, because that’s life.

But why not do better? We can say forget that and make a better story line. We can find a better way to promote our case than through the the promise of naked women.

All of this will be better if nothing else because it challenges us to not be lazy. To think outside the box instead of falling back on these tropes because they’ve been done before, because they’re easy.

Whether or not you agree with Anita, Emma Watson or others trying to change things and their opinions, you should be supporting the idea of trying to raise the bar.

In the case of Sarkeesian, it should be important to note that her video isn’t asking much of video games. She’s not saying video games shouldn’t touch these themes or they should stay away from them. She simply asks them to just take a step back and try to look at things a little more critically.

“Now–to be clear–I’m certainly not saying stories seriously examining the issues surrounding domestic or sexual violence are off limits for interactive media. However, if game makers do attempt to address these themes, they need to approach the topic with the subtly, gravity and respect that the subject deserves.”

So join us, let’s give this subject the respect it deserves.

Let’s raise the bar.

Let’s change the conversation.

Sep 222014
 

I was checking all my social media during my lunch today, ’cause that is what you do in 2014 and I came across this in my News Feed.

why would we even be surprised anymore?

why would we even be surprised anymore?

And I got mad. Not just irritated, or slightly perturbed, but enraged. Just yesterday I was sharing the beginning of this story: Emma Watson speaks out at the UN that feminism isn’t a dirty word and it’s for everyone. She has started a campaign entitled “HeForShe” encouraging men to take part of the fight. [It’s getting pretty heavy holding it up by ourselves over here.] I was impressed and proud that Emma had taken and put a very public face on an issue that we have been fighting over here in the Nerd World for way way too long.

And guess what happened. She got the same treatment (albeit fairly mild compared to some) that anyone speaking up against misogyny in gaming has gotten. They couldn’t attack her argument because their logic sounds a little like “Women shouldn’t talk. Just let us covet and hate women as much as we damn well please. Oh, and give us sex when we are nice to you/want it.” So, they attack her personally. For Emma Watson this first threat is to expose her (literally) in a way that makes anyone feel vulnerable. For Anita Sarkeesian (www.feministfrequency.com) it was exposing her in the way of ruining her anonymity on the web by threatening her home and the people she cares about.

And I’m fucking tired of it. I’m taking a stand. The League of 42 is taking a stand. This is no longer an issue that we can sit on the sidelines and let other people fight for us. This is getting to be a “You are with us or against us” issue because sitting around letting anyone attack Emma or Anita is letting them attack us. Letting them beat down the people who are fighting this fight for us.

According to “The Science of Happiness”, it takes 5 positive things to erase 1 negative one in your dealings with people. So, Anita, Emma, here’s hoping that the 5 of us standing with you silences 1 of the trolls you are fighting.

Jul 022014
 

the-wolf-among-us - Copy

I purchased The Wolf Among on a whim; I have not paid too much attention to Telltale games, the creators of the hit Walking Dead games, as I am not really into the show or comic, so I have passed on their games even with the hugely positive response they received. Now I am beginning to think I’ve made a huge mistake, because if they are anything like Wolf, it’s definitely another must play series for me. I happened upon a lets play video of Wolf Among Us while randomly perusing Youtube, got as far as the introduction, and knew I had to play this game. Luckily for me, it happened to be the last day of the Steam Summer Sale, and Wolf was available for a fantastic price, so I snapped it up. I have now finished the first episode, and started the second (as well as a second run through the first, with entirely different decisions), and I have to say I have been absolutely blown away by this game.

Set in 1980’s New York, and based off of a comic book series called “Fables,” we step into the shoes of one Bigby Wolf. He is the sheriff of Fabletown, where creatures and characters from fables and legends reside in secret. Each resident must purchase an enchantment called a “glamour” in order to remain concealed from the normal humans. Bigby Wolf is of course the Big Bad Wolf, now reformed and trying to maintain order within their community. It isn’t too long before fables (the characters that is) start to show up dead, and it’s our job as sheriff to unravel this mystery and find the killer.

wolf2

Like Walking Dead, Wolf is a modern take on the classic point and click adventure game. Interaction with the environment is mostly limited to checking out clues and the occasional quick-time event fight (which are AWESOME). Dialogue is where you are going to spend the majority of your time, and I’m happy to report this has been fantastically done by Telltale. The story is dark and gripping, and most of your decisions carry heavy consequences. Bigby’s moral compass is, at best, very grey, and it is left up to the player whether you want to continue on the reformed path and attempt peaceful resolutions and gain the respect of your fellow fables, or if you want to bring forward more of his darker side. With the darker story and the high stakes, it can be a difficult choice, and I often found myself jumping back and forth across the line as necessary, doing what I had to do to get to the bottom of events. This may have led to some justified hatred by many of the fables, but it’s for the greater good. Right? The only thing I would like to see removed is the rather silly windows that pop up reminding you of the effects of your actions. I don’t need to be told each time that this character will “remember” my actions, or that they noticed something I did. That should be up to the player to pick up, as it can break immersion a bit.

Suitably, the art style is very obviously comic influenced, and it is beautifully done. The world is grimy and magical, with lots of color in an 80’s styling. Every character and location is perfect, and I would be quite happy to have a print of about any random screenshot from this game. If you are a fan of more of an artistic, hand-drawn look, this should be right up your alley.

wolf3

Any fan of The Walking Dead games should definitely check this out, as should anyone looking for a dark, story-driven game that would feel right at home with a Neil Gaiman novel. The beautiful art, awesome fights, and questionable morality all combine perfectly into a great noir fantasy/mystery game, and make Wolf Among Us is a no-brainer. There are a couple small things that prevent this from being perfect, but even still it is absolutely one of my favorite games I have played this year.

Wolf Among Us is available for almost all major consoles and PC. You can find it on steam here.

 Posted by at 8:01 pm
May 112014
 

I have had the cosplay itch for several weeks now and someone *cough*Joe*cough* is having a hard time narrowing down our next Cosplay, so I decided to do something a little different….

COMIC BOOK COVERED SHOES!

shoe toes

What about that is not enticing? You create one-of-a-kind shoes that fit you and showcase something you love.

This is how I did it:

Step 1: Purchase secondary copies of comics you enjoy. I mean, who is gonna cut up their regular copy?

comics

Step 2: Pick some old shoes (or buy some new ones) that have a smooth surface to adhere the comics to. Luckily, I had some heels that I couldn’t wear anymore after my cat, Leonidas, thought the toes would be a good chew toy….

shoes

Step 3: Cut out pages that are the color scheme you want and cut out special images you want to showcase on the shoes.

comics pieces

cut outs

Step 4: Use ModPodge to stick the colored background pieces to the shoe. Wet the surface of the shoe and wet both sides of the comic piece using a paint brush. Press the piece down and stick with more ModPodge, pressing the comic piece flat onto the surface of the shoe.

eyes

partly done

Step 5: Cover both shoes completely with the background images and allow to dry for 2-3 hours.

shoessss

Step 6: Use the “featured” images and spread them around on the shoes to your liking.

pieces

Step 7: Allow the shoes to dry for 24 hours. Apply a final coat of ModPodge, let dry and WEAR THEM, YOU FABULOUS HUMAN.

Apr 082014
 

CyclesWell, I have finally finished the second paperback of Y: The Last Man, and there is certainly a lot to catch up on since we left our dear Yorick and his companions with several paths ahead of themselves at the end of Unmanned. We begin book two still in Boston, with Yorick bartering for passage on a freight train, though the group’s destination is still not immediately clear to the reader. After some “resourcefulness,” all are safely on board, and quickly discover that they will be sharing the space with a fully-stocked pigpen. And yes, don’t worry, fabulous puns ensue.

We soon learn that the chosen destination is Dr. Mann’s lab in California, which Yorick is none too happy about. Agent 355 seems concerned, too, and apparently rightfully so: after a short interlude (in which we find out that Yorick’s sister Hero has gone a bit off the rails [ha, my own pun!]), a pair of armed and apparently racist thieves show up. Caught off guard, Yorick is not wearing his disguise, and the thieves immediately discover that at least one male has survived the plague. The thought seems to barely register, however, before Yorick takes action despite (yet again) Agent 355’s warnings to stay back. He tackles one of the thieves, but it doesn’t go well: the thief quickly judo-rolls and throws both Yorick and shoulder-perched Ampersand through the open boxcar door and into the night. Worse yet, Agent 355 bashes her head when she dives after him.

Yorick is discovered, unconscious, on the side of the train tracks and given safe haven by Sonia, a woman from nearby Marrisville. After waking up, the two instantly bond, and Yorick finds himself describing his relationship with Beth as “complicated.” It is a surprising turn of events, given his fixation with traveling to Australia thus far. Still, he quickly recognizes the need to find Agent 355 and Dr. Mann, and prepares to leave. Before he is able to depart, however, he runs into the other sixty-six women of the town, who represent yet another important group of women that we have not yet seen in Vaughan’s post-apocalyptic universe: a no nonsense faction that rationally tends to their own basic needs. Sure, in the first book, Vaughan introduced us to the congresswomen searching for the next President, but here in book two he also acknowledges the distinct likelihood that a group of individuals would be able to overcome their differences in order to react to the distinct and immediate needs of a day-to-day order. It is an impressive feat considering we find out that the group is made up of convicts who escaped from a nearby prison, but it is not unrealistic.

Despite this positive note, a rather unfortunate development comes to pass, as Yorick’s love life becomes exponentially more “complicated.” First, he kisses Sonia in the woods, and second, in a concussed haze, Agent 355 weakly mutters, “I want you…Yorick.” While I was angry that Vaughan has contradicted his main character’s previous statements, and I personally hate Yorick’s decision, I am simultaneously impressed by the statement Vaughan is making: Yorick is the last man on Earth, but that doesn’t make him the smartest or best one. A similar idea applies to Agent 355, as I see it. She is one of the smartest women on Earth, but that doesn’t mean she can’t (mistakenly?) fall for the imperfect eponymous character.

Speaking of heroes (More puns! I regret nothing!), Yorick’s sister has now discovered that her brother is the man they have been following, and thanks to a tip from the woman who got him and the group onto the train at the beginning of book two, she knows just where he is. You might not consider a sister finding her long lost brother a bad thing, but unfortunately for Yorick, Hero is just as complicated as the rest of the cast. Brainwashed, she and the rest of the Daughters of the Amazon show up just as Yorick is having self-righteously berating the residents of Marrisville for their colorful past. Luckily, they are not as petty, and refuse to allow the Daughters to take the last man in the world into custody. Again, however, Yorick puts himself in extreme danger by turning himself over to them (Agent 355 is a bit too unconscious to disagree with his decision this time), and he is rewarded with a gun to his head, held by the leader of the Daughters, Victoria. In a tremendous show of violence, Sonia steps outside and deftly launches an ax into Victoria’s head, only to receive an arrow from Hero’s bow in her chest. After Sonia dies in his arms, it is Yorick’s turn to be angry, and he stops just short of executing his sister, demanding instead that the residents of Marrisville lock up the Daughters in the old prison.

The real fireworks come just before the end of the book, however. Hero reveals that it wasn’t the Daughters of the Amazon that attacked Dr. Mann’s lab. Cut to the Daughters of Israel, stealing a Blackhawk helicopter and receiving intel from a shadowed individual in a Secret Service office: “The boy is in a small town in northern Ohio called Marrisville.” We further learn that Hero is already on her way to escaping from prison, and, not that it’s a big deal or anything, there are at least two men other than Yorick alive. They’re just on the International Space Station!

Overall, I was less fond of the second book than the first. While I understand the literary need for it, after being presented with a fantastic and imaginative post-apocalyptic, nearly all-female future in the first book, the complications presented in the second made it more difficult to love it quite as wholeheartedly. Still, in my opinion, the work is probably quite a realistic view of such a future, and I would be doing a disservice to our readers to say that you shouldn’t pick up a copy.

Mar 012014
 

Y UnmannedI knew very little about Y: The Last Man before I began reading it, other than the fact that it is written by the same author, Brian K. Vaughan, that wrote Ex Machina (and, of course, currently writes Saga). My very limited knowledge did not even include much about the plot itself. But the comic had come highly recommended, and this past Christmas, my lovely wife and our very own talented author Ben purchased the first four trade paperbacks for me as gifts.

I dove in immediately, and a difficulty I have grappled with since I began reading comics last year set in right away: I wanted to read the whole work all at once. Indeed, just the first page of Y was enough to get me hooked, and made me glad that I knew next to nothing about the work, as my ignorance lent even more power to the revelation that “All the men are dead.” Similarly, I was immediately drawn to Yorick’s character (despite the dramatic name), who is simultaneously obviously very intelligent and charming, but impulsive and, perhaps, even reckless in his decisionmaking processes. Although I have not yet begun reading the second paperback, it seems clear that Vaughan intends to continue developing these traits of Yorick’s, as evidenced by some of his more rash actions later in the first paperback, which is aptly titled Unmanned.

Quite a bit takes place throughout Unmanned, making it difficult to cover every aspect of its plot as well as the introduction of the main characters. But Vaughan’s treatment of the time leading up to the sudden onset of the plague is worth mentioning, as it provides a dearth of backstory for our characters in only 29 minutes of comic-time without feeling at all contrived. Even the final five seconds of the countdown – each of which is given its own panel – is riveting, and in no way does the artistic treatment by Pia Guerra (penciller) and Jose Marzan (inker) take away from that. In fact, they reproduce the effect you feel when frantically flipping through pages at a particularly gripping moment, but without actually requiring you to do so. This is a real achievement in my mind, made all the more special to me because of my unfamiliarity with comic books as a medium more generally.

However, it isn’t just the treatment of the plague’s onset in Unmanned that makes me glad I received several paperbacks for Christmas. Although one of the more obvious characteristics of the work is that there are only (mostly) women left in the world, Vaughan stays away from old, tired, stereotypical treatments of a post-male society, repeatedly demonstrating that women are not fragile beings and would be more than capable of caring for themselves after such an apocalyptic event. Indeed, it is Yorick’s mother, a congresswoman, who tricks him by luring him into the panic room so that he will be safe, not the other way around. Even more refreshing is the group of GOP widows, who take up the political mantles of their dead husbands, and are literally up in arms in an attempt to defend their beliefs amidst the chaos. Just in case readers didn’t get the message, though, Vaughan erases any doubt that his intention to write Y‘s female characters realistically was anything but purposeful. Just before Yorick’s mother heads out to deal with the GOP widows, our eponymous last man, who is shocked that these women have so brashly attacked the White House, asks, “When the hell did women get so petty and…and power hungry?” Yorick’s mother replies, cleverly, “Didn’t you vote for Hillary?” A hilarious joke, yes, but it is more than just that; Vaughan isn’t telling us that the plague made women petty and power hungry. He’s telling us that some of them already were.

Regular old intrigue sucked me in as well, though, with the fast-traveling Daughters of Israel chasing down Yorick’s trail. And, naturally, at the end of book one, I was dying to know where Agent 355 would take us next. I’ll leave that much for next time, though! Let us know what you thought of Y‘s first book if you’ve read it. If not, pick up a copy soon!

Jan 302014
 

RatQueens_04-1

I think what I love the most about Rat Queens is just how much it resembles a traditional late-night tabletop session. The plot often moves toward the epic adventure fantasy that so many tabletop games attempt, but the story more or less ends up taking a backseat to the insanity and hilarious verbal sparring between the Rat Queens themselves, and the poor townspeople who get to deal with cleaning up afterwards – sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Rat Queens #4 continues the story established in the first three books, but this time we really start to see some of their actions catching up with them and the rest of the town. We get an interesting tidbit about Sawyer, as he kicks some ninja ass and hints at a darker past. This issue also reaffirmed my belief that Betty is pretty much the best character ever (her interaction with Sawyer immediately after previously mentioned fight was priceless). Her interactions with just about every character she comes across are just hilarious and often awkwardly so. Just about the rest of the book was a massive kill-fest, as a large army of trolls and orcs come seeking vengeance against the Queens, and therefore, the rest of the town. While this didn’t necessarily further the plot much, the gratuitous violence was again pretty great, superbly drawn, and with just enough moments of absurdity to fit perfectly with the tone (poor Gary).

Every issue seems to blend a fine mixture of drugs, sex, blood/gore, and comedy to form what I have no problem saying is probably the most fun to be had in comics right now. While absolutely not suitable for children, I really think just about anyone else will find something to enjoy with Rat Queens, and if you happen to be a tabletop veteran, it may just become your new favorite comic, as you see more and more parallels to your own games.