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Sometimes you want to watch an art film that makes you think, features subtle, nuanced performances, and indelibly captures a moment in time or ruminates on a timeless ideal.
But, sometimes you want to watch John McClane kick Hans Gruber’s ass.
The most recent volume of Rat Queens is more the latter, with the Queens, after a somewhat lackluster Vol. 3, getting back to what they do best—kicking ass and having ridiculous adventures that are equal parts silly, serious, and sublime. The addition of o
I know, I know. I swore myself off from Rat Queens after the disaster happening in the third volume, but apparently changed my mind. I hate when that happens, but considering the huge drama surrounding this series with the original illustrator’s (Roc Upchurch) domestic violence situation and the replacement’s (Tess Fowler) seemingly fishy-washy boot getting, I was curious to see could Kurtis J. Wiebe breath this series back to life with a new team of him and Owen Gieni.
The answer is yes and no.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this volume at first. I’ve since done some research and discovered that this is a “soft reboot” of the Rat Queens storyline by Kurtis J. Wiebe and new artist Owen Gieni, after controversy with the previous artists. (Short version: Original artist Roc Upchurch was arrested for domestic violence and dropped; replacement artist Tess Fowler, brought in for Vol. 3, left acrimoniously amid accusations that Wiebe tried to bring Upchurch back.) A hiatus ensued following all
Unfortunately, all this ignores the storyline and cliffhanger of Vol. 3, “Demons,” wherein Hannah goes to Mage University, which expelled her five years earlier, to try and save her father. She’s revealed to be a half-demon who staged a massacre, the Queens are broken up, and Hannah is thrown into a “void prison” from which she’s rescued by the demon who is evidently her biological father, and whose power she channeled long ago. It’s heavily implied that Hannah has turned completely dark.
But in this volume, the Queens are back in Palisade with their new member Braga, and going on their regular questing adventures. The story has been retconned to the point where Hannah’s stepfather Gerard, who was stated to have been executed in “Demons,” is hale and hearty and screwing the ghost of Hannah’s mother. I’ve read interviews where Kurtis J. Wiebe is claiming that everything that happened in “Demons” is still canon and all will be explained. I hope so, because my patience is running pretty short.
But just taking this volume on its own, it’s not up to previous standards. Owen Gieni’s artwork is just…lacking, with Violet suffering in particular. (If there had to be another artist, I wish they had gone back to Stjepan Sejic, who did the best job of picking up where Roc Upchurch left off.) This storyline is weaker, with the exception of the delightful Braga, and the whole thing feels off-kilter and disjointed. I might let Wiebe and company coast for a while because I liked the earlier volumes so much, but if they don’t get their act together…well, there’s plenty of other stuff to read, after all.