Written by: Kurtis Wiebe
Art by: Stjepan Sejic
The ladies of Palisade have returned! And with them they’ve brought new series artist Stjepan Sejic, well known for his work on Witchblade and Sunstone . Following the story arc that left us on the edge of our seats last October, the series is back with a bang, and a whole lot of action; because what do the Rat Queens do when faced with the end of the world?
*Series spoilers ahead, read at your own discretion.*
Last year’s issues ended on an increasingly darker note. In an effort to capture Sawyer and enact vengeance for killing his wife, Garrig went deep down the rabbit hole. After stealing the Haruspex Requiem, he used a level of godly power to mutilate Bernadette’s eyes (an image that still haunts my dreams), and released Cthulhu-like creatures from the heavens. Apart from physically destroying the city, these creatures also possess the ability to affect the mind (they feed on the energy of displaced reality, naturally). In doing so we’re given glimpses of pivotal and heartbreaking moments in Violet and Hannah’s pasts. Without question, it looks as if the Rat Queens have certainly met their match in an enemy, and it’s hard to imagine them coming out of this battle unscathed.
And yet, the most drastic shift in the series comes from #9’s new art. Sejic’s style is different, and for longtime readers that may feel jarring at first. His lines are less crisp than previous series artist Roc Upchurch’s, and the color palette is darker and more muted. But once you’re a few pages in, and the natural flow of the action picks up, that style only adds to the growing intensity of the story. The events of #9 are chaotic, and Sejic captures that essence and tampers it so well throughout this issue; like in the final page of Hannah’s childhood flashback, or the epically fierce fight scenes to rescue Sawyer. As the stakes are raised higher, we start to see deeper more captivating sides to our protagonists and their counterparts, and that is complimented with Sejic’s focus on close up panels, and capturing characters’ raw emotion. Hannah’s determination to save her beau, Saywer’s fear for Hannah’s life, and Betty’s wildly untamed anger all are up for display with resounding sincerity.
The new book isn’t without some compelling story turns either. With each passing issue Wiebe provides new things to focus on in each character’s arc, this time highlighting a much more malicious side to the lovable bluebirds living in Orc Dave’s beard, and treating us to more clues as to why Hannah refuses to stop channeling Necrius, the seed of her dark magic. Meanwhile, he continues laying the groundwork for what will come of Dee’s troubled relationship with her family, husband, and religion, and does so with just the right amount of compounding details. Dee has proven to be a skilled healer, but after seeing the power of her god at work, it makes you wonder just what she’s capable of, and exactly why she fears it. Continually well written characters across the board are what make this series so affable to high fantasy fans and newcomers alike.
This issue closes with the appearance of old and new friends ready to charge into battle, and that can sum up how I feel about the return of this series. Change can always be a challenging hurdle to cross, and can prove even more difficult when it interrupts the ebb and flow of an already great final product; but just as Violet said on the battlefield, “No mercy. No quarter. To the very end my Rat Queens,” as far as I’m concerned, I am here to stay.
Issue #10 of Rat Queens is due out April 1, 2015.
Disclaimer notice: I received one digital copy of this issue for review purposes only.