Whenever a series is preparing to introduce a new creative team, it never hurts to read the work of their predecessor. Thankfully, Rat Queens Volume 6’s trade paperback is here roughly a month before the series relaunch. Rat Queens Volume 6 is published by Image Comics, written by Kurtis Wiebe, with art by Owen Gieni, and letters by Ryan Ferrier. Volume 6 shows us Wiebe’s last great hurrah with the characters.
This story begins as most Rat Queens stories do, with the titular (anti)heroes engaged in an ill-fated, soon to be disrupted rest. Hannah, the mage, having recently been separated into good and evil alter-egos, is making breakfast. Soon enough the rest of the Queens have come downstairs, enticed by the promise of food. Here we are reintroduced to Violet the dwarven fighter, Delilah the human priestess, Betty the smidgen thief, and Braga the orc barbarian, as well as Dave the orc.
However, before the group is able to eat there is a crash as a figure bursts through the window. This owl-headed woman is revealed to be Sadie, the former queen and acquaintance of the Rat Queens. Once everyone calms down and is able to talk, Sadie explains her plight. A roving group of orcs has come to her lands and taken them by force. Dave recognizes the name of these orcs. It seems the same army that overran his home and he has sought to reclaim them, as well as his son.
Soon enough the Rat Queens offer to help Sadie. All except Delilah, who tells the group that she has a quest of her own that she intends to do alone. This leads the group to commit one of the greatest fantasy mistakes of all time. Splitting the party. What ensues is another twist-filled romp following all of the characters that we know and love.
Kurtis Wiebe’s writing for these last few issues is as solid as it ever was. As the creator of this series and these characters, he displays a complete understanding of each of them. His ability to craft relatable characters and place them into a believable yet fantastical world is outstanding. Though it always seems like the Queens manage to find a way out of whatever predicament they’re in, the tension and stakes always feel real. Though I am confident in the new creative team, I will still miss Wiebe at the helm of this series.
The art and colors by Owen Gieni are solid. Gieni’s art is expressive and does a great job of portraying the action without ever feeling difficult to follow, particularly during the flashback scenes. During these flashback sequences the art style shifts into something wholly unique based on which character is experiencing it. Seeing artists get creative with how they portray changes in storytelling is always fun and Gieni pulls it off excellently. Meanwhile, soon-to-be lead writer Ryan Ferrier is at work with the letters in these issues. Ferrier’s work is strong. The lettering is clean and the different uses of typefaces help discern who is talking and when spells are being cast which is a very nice touch.
Overall, Wiebe’s last run of Rat Queens is as robust and meaningful as his earlier ones. Reading this trade paperback is bittersweet knowing that it will all be changing. However, I’ve seen the work and quality that Ferrier is capable of and am confident this series is in good hands moving forward. If you haven’t read any Rat Queens before, this is a bad place to start. But if you’re a longtime fan and missed the individual issues on release, pick this up.
Rat Queens Volume 6 trade paperback will be available in comic shops on May 15th, 2019