Published on April 8th, 2015 | by Lauren McPhee0
Rat Queens #10 – Review
Rat Queens #10 opens once again on a flashback induced by N’rygoth, the Lovecraftian-flying-tentacle-Gods summoned to destroy Palisade; this time it is Tizzie, the antagonist of the first arch, shown recalling the beginning of her tricky friendship with Hannah at Mage U. While Hannah is shown consistently maintaining her outsider identity, we see Tizzie in a different light than in previous issues. When others dismiss Hannah, Tizzie offers friendship, even in the face of Hannah’s defensiveness and claim that she is a ‘notoriously bad friend’. It’s a sweet scene, nostalgic as a faded picture, autumn coloured as a relationship doomed to die, but also the mark of a turning point as we enter into the conclusion of the series’ second arc.
Snapping out of her reverie, Tizzie wakes up back in the rain and destruction that is present-day Palisade. The battle is ongoing from last issue, working its way back towards rescuing Sawyer and stopping Gerrig, man at the helm of the N’rygoth. We are back to the purples and whites of disaster, Stjepan Sejic’s art and colours beautifully rendering a magical war zone that is both captivating and devastating. As well as his incredible style of representing expression, as seen in Tizzie’s bloody-eyed sneer, Sejic’s colour schemes for individual scenes are extremely complimentary. Hannah’s reds bring a violence that puts her at the centre of the action, as other characters flash across the backgrounds creating a spacial canvas of movement and progression. Without words, we witness the ongoing battle even as character moments occur in the foreground, a technique that allows the issue to not be without its signature snark and sass.
And even with high stakes, Kurtis Wiebe is not going to abandon us to despair. From Tizzie and Hannah’s playful introduction, to prickly battle commentary that you can’t help but smile to, the dialogue remains one of the principle selling points of this comic. As well as giving us distinct, imperfect, gleefully sarcastic characters, the story loves to pit them against each other in tough situations and watch them squirm and sneer. This issue has plenty of that, from Violet and Dave, to Dee and her culture, to Hannah and the way she views herself in conjunction with her relationship to Tizzie.
What we get then is a re-grouping, with Tizzie at its center, as she too rallies to the defence of a town that has not been entirely kind to her. Coming to Hannah’s aid, we have the return of old alliances but also a roll-over of events from the last volume that shows that this comic is committed to its ongoing story. Characters are not throwaway, which if you haven’t noticed by now, you will with the appearance of a certain individual at the end. Nor are events without their consequences. Another thing that holds weight come story’s end. However, with this issue you really get the sense of a world in motion and development, a feeling that comes across most powerfully as rivals Hannah and Tizzie team up for a snarky display of attack magics.
This is significant to the conclusion of the comic. Of course, the day is saved and issues meet a kind of closure but everything has ongoing consequences: Hannah is demonic, affirming to some degree the reaction others have had towards her and her own self-isolation; however, we see characters like Tizzie and Sawyer befriending her anyway and now coming back around again after encountering that clash between notoriously bad and notoriously good that lies at the heart of Hannah’s identity. Dee learns the truth of her religious beliefs even though they come at the cost of her doubt and the conflict she feels towards her culture, something she will have to face as the new High Priestess. The town is destroyed, the guards are dead but the survivors must rebuild. The issue ends on a putting back together of things: Palisade, identities, friendships. Overall, a very satisfying conclusion.
Thus ends the second volume of Rat Queens, one that has dealt with the identities of its protagonists in much more detail, as well as complicating and challenging the world in which they live. We have seen Gods break out of the sky and lay waste, we have seen our heroines made vulnerable as their pasts are laid bare, and we have seen connections form and break and reform between characters. The highlights of this arc, I think, are Hannah and Braga, two very different characters that audiences have been invited to get to know, but we can’t neglect Dee from this story arc. She similarly had to face the resurgence of her past and her culture, and the comic ends with her in an extremely strong, although uncertain, place that I hope we will see developed in the next arc. Similarly, with the rebuilding of Palisade after heavy losses, we might see new additions to the Rat Queens in either Braga or Tizzie, or both. It’s going to be really interesting to see what the next arc will bring us after such a powerful, rounded conclusion to the story thus far.