For the past two years, I have been an absolute regular at my local comic store. They know my name, and pretty much the exact time I come in each week. Usually they have my comics already set aside for me, and they know my tastes as well, or even better, than I do when it comes to picking out new titles. They are really some of the most amazing people I have the opportunity to know. They, as much as the books I read, are why I love my weekly experience, and look forward the chance to chat and catch up with them.
This week I am extremely excited to go for my weekly pick up on Wednesday, as I know that there will be something very special waiting for me. Something that I have giddily been anticipating.
March 1st, 2017, marks the relaunch of Rat Queens, with a new number one, a new arc , and a new artist at the helm. Rat Queens is a series that focuses largely on a party of female adventurers. However, instead of feeling like something pulled from the pages of Dragon Magazine or Dragon Lance, the Rat Queens definitely feels more like a group of very close friends, sitting around a table and playing an honest to goodness game of Dungeons and Dragons, no holds barred; meaning it is rife with foul language, sex, drugs, ridiculous conflict resolution, and just a shit load of absolute crazy. The four main characters, all females, are exciting characters, and their pasts and presents thrilling and engaging. In the sea of super heroes and scantily clad women of fantasy, Rat Queens provides a breath of fresh air for the genre. As Image Comics is fairly creator run when it comes to story and content, it offers some truly inspired and entertaining series, featuring powerful women who are no longer just the arm candy or the damsels in distress, or even token members of a cast.
Personally, I am a fan of Hannah, the foul-mouthed, dark magic welding mage (Elf? Pact born? Still so much to know about her, though she is currently defined as ‘elf’ on the wiki page), as well as Dee, the former cultist cleric who both kicks ass and saves it. Maybe it is because these two resonate with the types of characters I like to play. Either way, I absolutely loves the first fun, and still fondly page through the previous columns when I get the chance.
Written by Kurtis Wiebe, this series has been one of the shining lights of my collection, and a series that I recommend (and force) on all my friends.
Now, this is a relaunch of the series with a brand new number one. In the previous run, writer Kurtis Wiebe ran into a few issues with artists, including deciding to take Roc Upchurch out of the position due to an arrest for spousal battery ( according to an interview, Wiebe states that the decision was made because it didn’t make sense to have that kind of baggage going on with a series of strong female characters and views), short turn over, and ‘creative differences’ ( thought some of the events surrounding the parting with the last series artist remain a little hazy). This eventually led to a hiatus, with a mid story arc drop off.
For this new birth of the series, Wiebe has teamed up with artist Owen Gieni, who in my option is absolutely astounding, both as an artist and an individual. Gieni’s other series include Shutter and Manifest Destiny, both of which I would recommend. I have the luck to meet both Wiebe and Gieni in September 2016, when they attended that Saskatoon Entertainment Expo, and I spent a fair bit of my time fan-girling between their tables and the line up to meet Carrie Fisher.
As with any relaunch of a series, there is always a little bit of hesitance to immediately pick up an issue. Anyone who has been reading comics or graphic novels knows that sometimes a relaunch of a title is worse than simply letting it fade away. Take both Marvel and DC, who have revamped and relaunched some of their major titles so often that there’s an absolute spider web of ‘continuity’, and often gaps that leave the reader wondering which past is relevant and which can be left aside. From what had been put out there in regard to this relaunch, I am quite certain that this will not be the case with Rat Queens.
Wiebe, Gieni, and a host of other comics creators have lent their hands to the relaunch of the series, putting out weekly additional content in the form of comic shorts (My personal favourite is by Stjepah Sejic, best known for insanely beautiful artwork, comics, and Sunstone, which just wrapped its 5 book arc this January). All of that additional content can either be found on Wiebe’s web page, or Gieni’s Twitter ( @owengieni), as the prep for the imminent launch date. Up until launch day, Wiebe and Owen are celebrating the 12 days of Queensmas, showcasing a new piece of art each day. These only serve to make it even more difficult to wait to pick up that first issue this Wednesday.
The creators have said that the relaunch of Rat Queens will be a pick up, rather than a complete revamping of the mythos and lore of the series. Hannah will still be brooding, mysterious, and likely using magic that she probably should not be. Dee and Violet will bring the hurt. Betty will, of course, bring the mischievousness and the drugs. It is also my hopes that The Dave’s will be back and more ready than ever to Dave it up. Some of the promotional content has also hinted at the fact that there may even be a new member, the impressive Braga. With the promises that have been leaking from the helm team of Rat Queens, this is going to be something that every fan, new and old, will enjoy.
With Wiebe continuing to write the series, and with Owen Gieni as the main artist, this is a relaunch that I am absolutely psyched up for. With Wiebe’s ability to write strong, motivated female characters who leap of the page, and Gieni’s talent with colours and drawing the eye across the story, the world of the Rat Queens will once again come alive.
If you are a fan of the series and were saddened by the hiatus and the break off of the previous story, or a fan of other work by Owen Gieni or Kurtis Wiebe, I would encourage you to get to your local comic book store and pick up the first issue when is comes out, March 1st, 2017.
Beware N’rygoth, happy reading, and Sidas,