Publisher: Image Comics (Shadowline)
Writer/Letterer: Ryan Ferrier
Artwork: Priscilla Petraites
Colours: Marco Lesko
Release Date: 23rd October 2019
Ever since taking the reins of the Rat Queens back in issue #16, this new creative team has done a great job of steadying the ship after co-creator Kurtis Wiebe called it a day following a prolonged period where the series seemed to be barely treading water.
This latest arc has been an absolute blast, with notable “asshole” Gary being re-inserted as a bad guy with an army of muscle behind him and a vision to take over Palisade and remake it in his own image.
Gary makes for an enjoyable foil, but as always, the main appeal of the series is the Queens themselves, and Ryan Ferrier does a great job of making them sound familiar while still stamping his own unique mark on the proceedings. New wrinkles to the team dynamic have been inserted, like Braga training up new recruit Maddie and the ongoing reluctance of Violet to use her godlike powers (and Hannah’s frustration and resentment at this). For me, however, the best “subplot” is Betty’s ongoing battle with sobriety and the introduction of Terwilliger, the physical manifestation of her goodness who is acting like a sort of glowing faerie “sponsor”.
This latest issue sees the freshly tooled-up Queens returning to Palisade to liberate it from Gary’s clutches, and gives artist Priscilla Petraites ample opportunity to shine on the visual side of things, effortlessly balancing the quirky facial expressions with the frenzied fantasy bloodletting.
This may be the most action-heavy issue of the arc so far, and both Petraites and colourist Macro Lesko certainly rise to the occasion in bringing the Queens’ wild attempt to liberate Palisade to the page. Limbs are severed, flesh is seared from bones, and giant adorable dog minions wreak havoc. It’s a visual feast, for sure.
When the Rat Queens first burst on the scene back in 2013, its main appeal was the irreverence, the profanity and the impressive collection of strong-willed and diverse fantasy females coming together to kick ass. In that respect, Ferrier and co. are definitely staying true to the core of the series, but are doing so in a way that pushes and broadens things a little further every time out.
Rather than merely being happy to write fan fiction in the established status quo, this creative team aren’t afraid to continually shake things up, putting our motley crew of bad-asses through the wringer in almost every conceivable way. It’s great stuff, and feels very much like the earlier issues of the series back when Wiebe still had his mojo working.
Also, as cliff-hangers go, this issue features an incredibly strong one, and while it’s unlikely that the shocking events of this issue will stick in the long-term (I mean, they can’t, can they?), I’m definitely curious to see how Ferrier writes our heroines out of the mess they’ve found themselves in.
Another cracking issue from this impressively rejuvenated series then, and in all honesty, it’s probably worth the cover price for Hannah’s opening rant alone. Trust me, it’s a thing of foul-mouthed beauty.