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‘Rat Queens’ #16 Shows You Can’t Go Home Again

RatQueens_16-CoverRat Queens #16
Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Letters by Ed Brisson
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain

 

WARNING: SPOILERS

Rat Queens #16 brings our Rat Queens (minus Hannah) back home to Palisade, except the town has gone to hell in a handbag. The townies hide as groups of adventurer-mercenaries crowd the Testy Unicorn Inn, waiting for their chance to prove they’re the next big heroes, and getting into drunken brawls in the meantime. The Queens return to a puffed up reputation; they’re now the Heroes of Palisade, and everyone–from the traveling chronicler (not a bard!) to estranged family members–want a piece of them. Kurtis Wiebe presents a raucous romp as the women find that coming home brings no sense of comfort.

This issue gives the series a reset after the deep upheaval of the “Demons” arc. Hannah is absent, tucked away in the Mage U version of the Phantom Zone, and her friends have no idea how to rescue her. The Queens are attempting to move on by returning to Palisades to reconnect (for sex!) with those they left behind and perhaps find new direction. Reunion is the watchword, and the three seek out or are sought by the familiar and unexpected. The relocation of Violet’s brother to Palisade likely inspires the new arc’s title: “When Beards Collide.”

Read the rest of my review at PopOptiq.com.

Palisade

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‘Rat Queens’ #15 Asks Demon or Queen?

RatQueens_15-1Rat Queens #15
Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Letters by Ed Brisson
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Cover by Stjephan Sejic

Rat Queens #15 finishes out the “Demons” arc with revelations and character rebirth, all driven by the question: demon or Queen? At the heart of this is a he said/she said retelling of how Hannah got kicked out of Mage University that ends with miscommunication and missteps. This final issue of the arc slams the reader in the best narrative ways and puts an emotional cap on what has been a stellar arc by Wiebe.

Hannah’s backstory has been at the forefront of the “Demons” arc, with the secondary story belonging to Dee. In both, the characters have grappled with their estranged families. In both, they’ve reunited with a family member and reevaluated the relationship based on the new encounter. And here those two private backstories collide with heavy consequences.

Read the rest of my review on PopOptiq!

RatQueens_15_04


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‘Rat Queens’ #14 Presents Backstory, Dragon Shenanigans

RatQueens_14-cvrRat Queens #14
Written by Kurtis J Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Cover by Stjepan Šejic
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by Ed Brisson
Edits by Laura Tavishati
Published by Image Comics on December 30, 2015

This bravura issue is everything one has come to want and expect from the penultimate entry in a Rat Queens arc. All the pieces are now in place to have a truly climactic finale: backstories and secrets are revealed while new discoveries create ever rising action. The cliff-hanger and cover preview for January’s issue left me tied in knots.

The cover brilliantly presents the metafictional construct of this series. Our four Rat Queens, based on classic D&D character types, sit around an inn table playing a variation of D&D. They display a range of emotions–Hannah livid at a negative turn of events, Dee (here the DeeM–har!) apprehensively waiting to continue the narrative, Betty smiling casually and Violet heartily laughing at Hannah’s outburst. Similarly in the issue’s narrative, Dee and Hannah have the more serious parts while Betty and Violet supply the comic turns.

Read the rest of my review at PopOptiq.com!

http://www.popoptiq.com/rat-queens-14-review/

I don’t normally bother with spoiler warnings, but this is an issue you’ll want to enjoy the surprises of. Read it first.

RatQueens14_Gallery

 


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‘Rat Queens’ #13: Mage U is Candy-Coated with a Danger-Filled Center

RatQueens_13-coverRat Queens #13
Written by Kurtis J Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Cover by Stjepan Šejic
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by Ed Brisson
Published by Image Comics

The “Demons” arc, of which this is part three, has been literally and figuratively exploring the demons tormenting the Rat Queens. The literal demons tear at their flesh. The metaphorical demons of the past tear at their minds and hearts. In part three, Hannah and Dee are reunited with loved ones while Violet and Betty’s R&R time lacks relaxation.

At the end of issue #12, the Rat Queens were nearly frozen in the middle of a wizard-induced snow storm, having just escaped a pack of Hell shades. Well, no worries. A deus ex machina in the form of Polle rescued them and brought them the rest of the way to candy-colored Mage University. The issue mostly offers the Queens a reprieve while also giving them new paths to conflict.

For the rest of the review, jump to PopOptiq.

http://www.popoptiq.com/rat-queens-13-review/

RatQueens13_Gallery


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‘Rat Queens’ #12 Raises Stakes, Tolkien Allusions

RatQueens_12-coverRat Queens #12
Written by Kurtis J Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by Ed Brisson
Published by Image Comics

Kudos to Tess Fowler on her wonderful cover for issue #12, which acts as prelude for the issue with a single bit of apt imagery–Betty, in the place of Bilbo Baggins, stealing candy from a dragon she is unaware of. Similarly, this issue shows our ever confident Rat Queens questing towards Mage University and finding more in the shadows than they are prepared to face. While that sounds rather ominous, the humor remains and is foregrounded in a story of increasing gravitas.

Issue #12 continues the new narrative arc, opening with a drunk Violet adventuring to the potty. Her call to battle–“To the shitter, my Rat Queens!”–encompasses the crude humor Wiebe instills in these warrior women, and part of why they so delightfully break the gender stereotypes of most comics. Returning to her room, she finds the door locked. Kicking it down, she interrupts the attempted assassination of Betty. Violet flexes drunken warrior bravado, but finds her physical prowess somewhat diminished to comical effect–farce employed by a badly aimed dagger and a deadpan reaction of “Balls.” Still, the assassin realizes this isn’t her moment and makes an escape, putting the “ass” back in assassin by gassing our heroes.

My review and recap continues at PopOptiq–Just click through!

http://www.popoptiq.com/rat-queens-12-review/


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Comic Review: Rat Queens #11

Michael and I had been reading Rat Queens in TPB until now. This time, up-to-date with the narrative and back into buying single issues, Rat Queens is now on our pull list. Because, honestly, its one of the most fun and interesting comics out there, like if Jem and the Holograms is a little too slight for you but Bitch Planet’s too heavy. Get thee some Rat Queens.

For those of you oblivious to the conceit, Rat Queens follows the hack and slash exploits of a four-woman D&D-style adventuring party. There’s a dwarven fighter, a halfling rogue, a human cleric, and an elven mage. And if you haven’t caught up with issue #11, I suggest checking out our earlier reviews on Volumes 1 and 2 and coming back.

Spoilers ahead!

RatQueens 11 cover

First issues, whether of as series or merely a new arc, need to juggle a handful of requirements to keep readers coming back. First, the issue needs to grab a readers attention, often by establishing a new conflict in medias res. Here we see an elf named Gerard in front of a hooded council. We understand that they are opposed, the council and this man, each having an opinion on what is best for the arcane university. Gerard’s daughter (Hannah we later figure out!) apparently brought devastation on the university, and this is part of the recovery effort. Exposition aside, the issue kicks the action in the pants, with each side making an attack. The council tries to arrest Gerard while he pulls a wand from his sleeve and portals in a mob of students. An arcane battle breaks out full of the colors of the magical elements.

ratqueens 11 pg 1

Next, re-establish the characters. The issue jumps to a goblin settlement on a snowy mountain. Our Rat Queens are caged within, and Smidgeon (halfling) thief Betty is commenting on the quality prep work the goblin chef is doing in anticipation of cooking them. In the few panels that follow, the characters get brought back to focus for us. Betty especially gets shown to be the peppy rogue that she is, brilliantly hiding her poison amongst her candy (and drugs?) As these four thwart their captors, their relationship and commitment to each other gets re-established. The end of the issue has them verbalizing their support for Hannah’s quest to find out what happened to her dad, bringing a circular closure to the issue.

RatQueens_11_05

Third, build on to our understanding of the characters. The main focus for this issue is Hannah. We find out more about her time at arcane university, get a glimpse of her relationships to other students, and meet her dad. Secondary focus goes to Betty who gets to be the hero of the goblin escape and also gets ambushed in the surprise cliff-hanger. The assassin, another Smidgeon, calls her Petunia, last of the Five Monkeys. As a cliff-hanger, its meant to leave us with anxiety and questions. It succeeds.

This leads directly into the final requirement–get the reader to buy the next issue. Will I want to know more about the arcane university Hannah’s dad led a rebellion in? Absolutely. Do I want to know how Betty dispatches her assassin and who the Five Monkeys are? Totally.

This issue, besides starting a new narrative arch, introduces a new artist, Tess Fowler. Fowler is the third artist on Rat Queens, and each change has required an adjustment period for me. Fowler’s version of the characters doesn’t make any drastic changes, but there’s something slightly less edgy about their rendering. I found this especially true with Hannah, who appears softer and more traditionally beautiful. Previously she’d been more angular and awkward in her height. However, there are panels I just adore that show Fowler’s got the right idea. After the Queens get to the tavern to celebrate their escape, Violet talks briefly about Dave, her orc beau. A bluebird appears in her beard, a direct reference to Orc Dave’s frequently birded appearance. Speaking of Violet’s beard, it’s a nice touch to show the time the women have been away by the unkemptness of Violet’s beard.