Written by: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Art by: Tess Fowler
Rat Queens Special: Braga is special in a number of ways. This one-shot fills a void left open while new artist Stjepan Sejic prepares to take over full time, it gives a more in-depth look at a minor character, and we get to see another interpretation of the fantasy world as seen through Fowler’s pencils. It’s a carefully constructed story of a life defined by strength, courage, integrity and resilience instead of being shaped by others.
Braga, the fierce and brutal Orc of the Peaches, was once known as Broog. The son of a mighty Orc chieftain and being groomed to be his successor despite philosophical differences with his father. It was that turmoil that strained their relationship even though Broog loved combat and the thrill of war. Was there more than one way to rule? Broog thought so and it didn’t sit well with pops. Or his jealous brother.
Braga is really about maintaining your integrity in the face of opposition and standing for what you believe in. Yes, at some point in Broog’s life he transformed into Braga identifying as a woman, but it’s just an example of the fierce independence and self-awareness he had once he was free from someone else’s expectations. It’s never revealed how or when that transformation took place, but it’s clear as the flashback is told, sandwiched between scenes of Braga telling one of the Daves post- and pre-coitus, that’s she’s never felt happier or herself.
Fowler’s work is great with only some minor quibbles. Honestly, it took a second to get used to the art simply because we’ve become accustomed to Roc Upchurch’s signature look over eight issues. Still, Fowler does incredible layout work as she frames the battle scenes with unconventional panel placements and it helps to bring additional energy and ferocity to the action. The bird’s eye view of the battlefield is especially effective.
The only issues were in a couple of panels where the proportions of the subject, Broog in one scene specifically, were way off appearing as though he had alligator arms. But overall the artwork was really good and very much in the spirit of Rat Queens.
Rat Queens Special: Braga is a nice diversion from the series that may not have the usual sarcastic humor, but does a wonderful job of addressing a transgender character by merely treated her as a person. Something we could all learn in general.