Review: Rat Queens #14
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Tess Fowler
Colourist: Tamra Bonvillain
Image Comics’ stellar fantasy series Rat Queens returns for its 13th issue, with writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and artist Tess Fowler delivering another outing of “sass and sorcery.” The issue sees each queen continue to embark on their own mini-story while at Mage University, briefly separated while Hannah attempts to confront her ever-complex family history. #13 shows Hannah speak to the ghost of her mother, who reveals the true nature of everything her father Gerard did when she died. Many home truths are shared and perspectives changed, but is it too late for her to reconcile with him ahead of his doomed trial at the university?
The most enjoyable and entertaining storyline in Rat Queens #13, of course, follows Violet and Betty as they deal with the fallout from last issue’s cliff hanger. Turns out their first impressions of the dragon they disturbed in #12 proved to be unfounded, as the dragon – named Daniel – turns out to be a charming, sensitive and hospitable dragon with an enormous candy collection. Daniel and Betty quickly become firm friends; a spin-off featuring the two of them is something I could definitely get behind, getting themselves into clumsy, candy-related scrapes. Violet, however, may be hiding something, perhaps her true feelings, from her sister Betty. Did anyone else read Daniel in the voice of Ian McKellen?
Dee and her brother Senoa have share a few home truths themselves, having a heart-to-heart recounting everything from their opposing attitudes towards faith to their shared guilt and heartache regarding their mother. Plus Senoa knows something super serious about Hannah, referring to her as a “monster,” which serves as an intriguing cliff hanger for the next issue.
This issue of Rat Queens does feel a little heavy on filling in the blanks plot-wise, excavating the past and revealing many details as opposed to the action-packed stories of previous outings. There are definitely many advantages to the former, bringing even more emotional resonance to Hannah’s tumultuous family story, but Rat Queens is at its best when the girls revel in their foul-mouthed, swash-buckling glory.
Fowler’s art work continues to impress, delivering hugely expressive characters and complimenting Wiebe’s dialogue excellently. As with the previous Rat Queens outings, the varying locations and situations for each queen affords Fowler and Bonvillain the luxury and challenge of creating so many distinct and developed environments, but this issue presents fewer jaw-dropping landscapes than before. That said, the scenes between Hannah and her mother are beautifully coloured and atmospheric, full of eerie purples and greens, and the arctic tundra/dragon cave scenes are bright and crisp.
Rat Queens #14 remains consistent with previous issues in that it may lack the chaos readers have come to expect; the characters seem to truly thrive when surrounded by chaos and action. With its emphasis on dialogue and background explanation, this issue may feel slow compared to the frantic pace of previous, action heavy outings, even if laying the ground work is important for story development; but as always, the characters are so amiable and rich that even a slower issue fails to make Rat Queens any less enjoyable read.