It’s been a few months of cold, bleak weather, but on the first day on a new month, Rat Queens blossoms from the snow to bring a little sunshine to the world.
Writer Kurtis J. Wiebe’s hit adventure comic series has returned to the shelves with an all new first issue. Working with new artist, Owen Gieni, the newest chapter in the Rat Queens saga is a return to the old days of wild parties and rabid monsters.
This first issue sees Dee, Hannah, Violet and Betty waking from a rager and immediately setting out to join Braga the Orc for their latest job of tracking down a gourmet chef that has disappeared in the woods around Palisade. While on the trail, Braga is formerly inducted into the Rat Queens and Violet is reunited with her brother who has formed a gender-swapped version of the Rat Queens out of envy.
After the drama and intensity of the Mage University storyline, it was refreshing to see the guild return to its roots. Wiebe and Gieni acknowledge this in a panel when Violet remarks how good it is to be on an adventure again and she sees the gang falling into stereotypical patterns: Hannah playing with magic, Dee reading an ancient tome and Betty smoking something ungodly.
Wiebe consistently shines in his storytelling and dialogue. The addition of the gender-swapped Cat Kings added a fresh layer of hilarity to the issue as the Queens paired off with their male counterparts and found out how they are all the same characters with different twists. Who knew that a fungus druid was comparable to a cleric for a Lovecraftian god? Wiebe’s sense of humor is strong in this issue, and he again demonstrates great timing and rhythm of his comedic material.
Gieni’s art enhances the comedy while bringing a darker and heavier look to the world surrounding the Queens. Filled with earth tones, Gieni’s panels ground the story and the occasional bright backgrounds surrounding the Queens enhances the intense emotions within the moment.
Gieni also handles the moments of comedy in Wiebe’s writing incredibly well, such as when a geriatric mage starts crying when Hannah tells him why she was kicked out of Mage University, and he approaches the actions scenes with cinematic zeal. He’s also fantastic at creating giant geese. Just saying.
In all, Rat Queens #1 is a strong return to the story of these four, now five, women as they take drugs, kill monsters and crack wise. The new issue can be bought at comic book stores as well as online at Image Comics and Comixology.