Written by: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Art by: Tess Fowler
Color by: Tamra Bonvillain
Here’s our story thus far: The Rat Queens, accompanying Hannah to her alma-mater of Mage University must deal with some leftover refuse of their respective pasts. For Dee it’s as simple as missing her family, while for Betty it’s a price on her head and bounty hunters all too happy to try and collect. And for Hannah? Well, she’s made a deal with a devil and it seems like he’s pretty keen on collecting.
What’s made Rat Queens a great read from the start and one of the books I always recommend when someone asks me “what comics should I be reading?” is that it feels less like you’re reading a comic and more like you’re watching the most exciting and an irreverent Dungeons & Dragons session. Wiebe has always been skilled at weaving humor, character moments and action together into a cohesive narrative. Not many other writers can open with a character drunkenly stumbling up the stairs and then seamlessly transition that into a battle with a tiny ninja hit-woman and then into a heartfelt conversation between friends.
Fowler’s art, to be completely honest, is something I’m still getting used to, it adds a particular subtlety to the humor of the narrative. She nails it during The aforementioned hit-woman attack with a slight change in facial features as Violet critically misses with a dagger toss.
She kills it with these micro-expressions at every turn.
But this leads us to the highlight of the issue, and one one of my favorite sequences in the series this far: the encounter the group has with a bunch of Hell Shades after they rush into a cave to escape a blizzard. When Hannah laments that they can’t win and Betty corrects her with “We always win,” you absolutely believe her, the same way you do when your party’s bard is absolutely certain the two of you can take down a Bugbear. Sorry, flashbacks to a recent gaming session. Much like my Bard friend, Betty is terribly, terribly wrong and the Queens have no choice but to escape. Its almost strange to read because we’ve seen the ladies take a few scrapes but almost nothing like the thrashing they receive in this issue. Fowler’s art once again shines through here, really making the toll the battle is taking on the team come through in every panel. By the time they make the choice to escape they all look like they could use a few potions of healing.
Maybe it’s because I’m invested or Wiebe is as good as making the Rat Queens seem as though they’re in real danger as he is as showing them be raucous and victorious, but I’m not gonna lie: I wanna know how they’re gonna get out of this one.