Rat Queens #16 is published by Image Comics, written and lettered by Ryan Ferrier, with art by Priscilla Petraites, and with colors by Marco Lesko. Issue 16 opens with a hooded man in the peaceful kingdom of Blorevion. The man’s identity is obscured, but his mission is clear. He seeks the King of Blorevion. After murdering his way through several guards and attendants the man kills the king himself. Now, with the king disposed of, he seats himself upon the throne and declares Blorevion under his rule.
We are then transported to a forested area where the Rat Queens are doing battle with a spider-woman. After the events of the previous arc their dwarven companion Violet has departed, leaving the Queens in disarray. Betty is unable to fight due to being hungover, Hannah can’t cast spells after losing an arm, and Dee’s godlike powers make the rest rely on her too much. The two newer members, Braga and Maddie, are unable to do much due to Maddie’s lack of confidence. Within moments, the Rat Queens are already retreating due to their dysfunction.
Before we can see the consequences of the team’s failure the perspective shifts to Blorevion once more. The usurper king has finished putting down a rebellion, leaving the kingdom in ruins. As a result he and his troops must find a new place to call home, and he claims to know just the place. As the armies set out, the Queens must find a way to regroup and find their confidence again. But with danger on the horizon and turbulence forming between the members, can they succeed?
Ryan Ferrier’s first “main series” issue hits all the right notes and makes for a compelling relaunch of the series. Rather than just kick it all off and pretend as though nothing had changed, Ferrier makes his mark early. The writing and plot embrace the idea of tumultuous changes and the difficulty of someone important leaving. The Rat Queens are struggling after the knocks that they’ve taken. It seems like they’re all having difficulty coping with the ways their lives have gone, and in different ways.
Personally, I really like this method of approaching the characters. Rather than trying his best to imitate everything the previous writer had done, Ferrier treats us to a story that is evocative of the way the readers themselves may be feeling. Everything is shaken up, and nothing is quite the same. But that’s ok, as long as the characters can get over themselves long enough to remember they’re the heroes.
This is all handled well by Ferrier, and gives me a lot of hope for the direction the series will be going from here. He, wisely in my opinion, pulls from the history of the series for a few surprises as well. Overall, though this isn’t truly an inaugural issue for Ferrier, this is a strong way to start. Additionally, Ferrier’s work on the letters is solid.
The art by Priscilla Petraites is gorgeous. Scenes of violence flow brilliantly, and contain the same visceral quality that longtime fans would expect. Similarly, the dramatic beats are all the heavier thanks to the detail and emotive renditions the characters are given. All of this is complemented by the colors from Marco Lesko. Lesko’s palette is broad and the variety of warm and cool colors he utilizes helps bring out the best from every panel. I cannot speak highly enough of the visuals from these two.
Overall, I am happy to see the series appears to be back on track. The decisions from this creative team are bold, but they work. If you’ve been a longtime fan of Rat Queens then you won’t be disappointed with Rat Queens #16 and the new crew behind it.
Rat Queens Issue #16 will be available in comic stores everywhere on May 19th, 2019
Rating: 4.5/5 Smidgens approve of this issue