If possible, I think I love Rat Queens even more now than I did after finishing Volume 1. Volume 2 addressed the few quibbles I had with the first collection, and the Braga special issue tells the story of one of my favorite secondary characters from the comic.
When I read the first volume, I lamented a little that there wasn’t a whole lot of backstory for most of the characters. A friend assured me that this was something I could look forward to in the second volume, and he was absolutely right. I won’t say that there was as much backstory as I could ever want, but it’s definitely enough to both partially satisfy my desire for more information about the characters and whet my appetite for the series.
The character who was least developed in Sass and Sorcery was Dee, and we learn a lot more about her here. What I love, however, is the way Dee’s background is revealed here, in slow stages, while continuing to maintain a sense of mystery about her. I’ve got a much better sense of who Dee is, but I don’t think we’ve got the full measure of her yet.
The stand-out characters here, though, are Violet and Hannah. Violet’s backstory is great, with just the right amount of humor, properly deployed to lighten it up. It introduces a couple of really excellent minor female characters as well. For Hannah, we get some of her personal history as well as some new information that helps explain her difficult relationships with secondary characters Sawyer and Tizzie. I love that we get to see a little bit of softness and depth for both Hannah and Violet, which prevents them from slipping too comfortably into any Strong Female Character tropes. Instead, and this is particularly true for Hannah, they are pleasantly complex, with sometimes surprising depths.
Unfortunately, this isn’t true for Betty, who remains woefully unexplored in comparison. Her relationship with Faeyri is touched upon, but overall Betty has rather little to do. I hope that means the next arc will include more of Betty’s background, as she’s a potentially interesting character who so far is still a little one-note which becomes glaringly obvious as other characters gain more and more dimension.
The Braga special issue is excellently done, and it’s refreshing to find a story about a transgender character whose transness is almost incidental to her story. I have a particular love for stories about orcs in general, and this one is wonderfully different while still being very classically orc-story-like. It’s numbered, so I’m looking forward to more Braga stories in the future.
I only wish I’d read this all in the same afternoon as I read the first book, which I highly recommend doing for those who’ve just started the series. Do it. Just read it all in one go. You know you want to.