It really felt like some of the luster had been lost on Rat Queens. There was the drama with co-creator Roc Upchurch’s personal life issues essentially forcing him off the title, the struggle of finding a new artist to live up to Upchurch’s incredible work, and sustaining the frenetic pace of innovative (and incredible) opening arcs.
All those strikes against Kurtis Wiebe’s book made it seem hard to overcome, and it was genuinely sad because this book was fantastic - it was praised by GLAAD, comic critics, and casual fans alike for its punk-rock adventurers whose loyalty to one another shone through a cloud of arrows. Also? It was pretty ****ing funny.
Wiebe wanted this to be a soft reboot, to return back to the comic’s original intentions to be a mash of Dungeons and Dragons and the movie ‘Bridesmaids,’ and in that he and Gieni succeeded incredibly well: the comedic pacing here is wonderful, brought to life through Gieni’s artwork. The raid on a monster’s lair is well plotted, with the conflicting adventuring group (composed of Violet’s weird brother Barrie and his Rat Queen wannabe comrades the Cat Kings) serving as a comedic foil and a real pain in the ass, preventing the Queens from being fully effective.
The strengths in this book are strong indeed: the characters chide one another savagely, but you can feel the emotion radiating off the page because they treasure each other. Hell, seeing Braga officially become a Rat Queen was a touching scene backed by ripping on her odor. Again, the humor is razor sharp, and Gieni’s use of ridiculous facial expressions drive home the beats.
It’s really nice to have this book back, and have it back at the feverish level of its inception; Wiebe crafts fantastic dialogue for his beloved creations, and you can tell he’s having a ball laying the groundwork for this bananas quest. Gieni is a phenomenal addition, with beautifully rendered characters and, again, milk-snorting-funny reaction shots. It’s a great time to get back into the world of Palisade, and reacquaint yourselves with the Rat Queens.
I’m just so damn happy to have these stinky, violent, crass, obnoxious ladies back in my life at their most stinky, violent, crass, and obnoxious best.