Rat Queens #18 is published by Image Comics as part of their Shadowline imprint. It comes from the creative team of writer/letterer Ryan Ferrier, artist Priscilla Petraites, and colorist Marco Lesko.
When last we saw the Rat Queens they were setting out on a new mission. That mission was to climb the highest and most dangerous peak to find a weapon promised by their former member Violet. As the issue opens, the climb seems to be going poorly. The Queens argue regularly and between the extreme cold and the treacherous cliffs, progress is slow. Things begin to look even more bleak when the first of Gary’s assassins arrive on the backs of giant crows.
The Queens rush across a bridge made of ice in hopes of finding safety. The assassin’s, in hot pursuit, injure Braga and cause Maddie and Dee to take a stand. As Maddie faces down the killers, Dee finally attempts to channel her godly powers. But, doing so causes a strange voice to warn her that there are consequences for what she is doing. As the group scrambles to solid ground, Maddie stands defiant against the assassin. When her bravery is tested, the Queens find themselves in even greater peril. With the success of their mission and the rescue of Palisade on the line, it is up to the Queens to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Once again, Ryan Ferrier has produced an issue of Rat Queens that is both irreverent and celebratory of high fantasy and it’s numerous tropes. Frequently hilarious and equally touching, this issue is a standout. The themes of loss and coming to terms with the inevitability of change are still present. But, the methods of addressing this are what are particularly resonant: the past should be embraced to allow changes to sting a little less. Handled by a lesser writer, or someone who was more distant from the story than Ferrier, this may not have landed. But Ferrier has been with this series from the beginning and knows who these people are. This issue stands as a thesis that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and the ending shows that brilliantly. In addition, his letter work remains excellent.
The art from Priscilla Petraites is beautiful. Her skilled hand continues to be yet another selling point for this series. Whether showing a beautiful shot of characters on a mountain peak or a giant dog standing in a crowd, both are handled with the same skill and care, and the series is better for it. The same goes for the colors from Marco Lesko. The skies and colors when the characters are navigating the mountains are, at times, breathtaking.
This was easily my favorite issue of this series so far. The themes and story hit home, the humor was on point, and the art and colors were gorgeous. There are a couple of plot contrivances that felt a little off, but knowing this team, that is intentional. It’s a great time to be a fan of this series and Rat Queens #18 exemplifies why. Everyone should check it out.
Rat Queens #18 will be available in comic stores everywhere September 11th, 2019
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