Rat Queens #9: Review
Breaking up a successful artist and writer partnership is tough. Breaking up a successful artist and writer partnership in the middle of a story arc is tougher. Breaking up a successful artist and writer partnership on a title that has fought tooth and nail for a feminist friendly reputation because the artist was arrested for domestic violence- well you get the idea.
Still if Rat Queens creator Kurtis Wiebe is feeling the pressure, and it’s hard to imagine that he’s not, He keeps it out of the work in Rat Queens #9.
Somewhat perversely, considering that it’s inevitably going to be viewed as a schism, issue #9 is a terrible jumping on point. Basically opening in media res with an invasion of Lovecraftian Godbeasts eating space time, trapping our heroines in their memories as they destroy their city. Unless you’ve followed the story up until this point you are going to be confused.
Otherwise Rat Queens #9 is a lean twenty four pages. Propulsively running for the arc’s climax while delivering Wiebe’s trademark blend of bloody swashbuckling action, character based drama and humor that manages to be tongue in cheek without being too distancing from the story. In short it’s an issue of Rat Queens and while the split with original artist Roc Upchurch certainly must have been painful, it appears not to have been fatal.
It’s hard to know what to make of Stjepan Šejić (bane of my spell check) after one issue. His art is less cartoonish, and thus less expressive than Upchurch and the issue doesn’t have the poppy energy of the earlier issues (then again the subject matter is a lot darker, both figuratively and literally). On the whole the feel of the artwork is a bit more standard issue fantasy art. Add this to a few panels where the anatomy is a bit wonky and it’d be easy to get worried. On the other hand, Sejic draws the action (and there’s a lot of it this issue) with a clarity and fluidity that makes the choreography and geography easy to follow. Simply put, that makes up for a lot.
Rat Queens #9 might not have the depth of the series at its best. But it’s a solid issue of fast paced fantasy fun. To deliver something this confident given the circumstances is nothing less than truly impressive. It was a difficult transition made at a difficult time and Rat Queens pulled it off. It’s hard to say where things go from here, but one thing remains clear, Rat Queens is a title with a long future in front of it, one that can go just about anywhere. Long live the Rat Queens.