Rat Queens #9 // Review
The ninth issue of Kurtis J. Wiebe’s second Volume of Rat Queens explores the disorienting shift in time and reality experienced between the end of Volume 1 and start of Volume 2, while mining character depths and exploring the significance of the Queens’ interdependence. Part 4 of “The Colossal Magic Nothing,” the Owen Gieni illustrated issue investigates a continuation of the timeline established prior to the commencement of the second volume, where Hannah was last seen locked up by the Counsel of Nine following conflict involving Gerard at Mage U. In this timeline, the remaining Rat Queens eventually go their separate ways following Hannah’s imprisonment, regrouping years later to combat a recently escaped and overpowered Hannah, angry, evil, and out for revenge. By the end of the issue, it’s revealed that this dark timeline is not a vision of what could have been but of what once was, as present-day Dee awakens in the current timeline to the realization that she had magically traveled back in time, changing it to save Hannah, using the full potential of her powers as high priestess to the dark, tentacled god, N’rygoth.
Wiebe masterfully interweaves multiples timelines to reveal connections between the two Rat Queen volumes, while leaving large elements of the ongoing story a mystery, such as who the enigmatic wizard removing characters from reality is, what connection they have to Dee’s timeline alteration, and how the cult in Palisade plays into the overarching narrative. Deep cut allusions are made to earlier issues, including significant scenes being reproduced from issue 15 of Volume 1, a callback to the previously indisposed Mathias of Clan Meldhammer and an older Violet being seen wearing her mother’s earrings.
Gieni shifts impressively between rich, detailed, realistic depictions and more fun, cartoonish fare. He also excels in his ability to show the Rat Queens aged at various stages of their lives, in a variety of environments. He evokes strong emotions through his characters’ facial expressions and uses a cooler color palette to contrast this severe issue with the lighthearted fare seen in more recent arcs. Gieni stretches his artistic skills this issue, showcasing his growth and versatility as an artist, making it of the best demonstrations of his artistry to date.
Themes of fate and friendship permeate this issue, and it is posited that the only thing preventing the Rat Queens from living out their respective predestined fates is the group’s cohesion and the Queens’ love for one another. Paralleling the previous issue, which saw Hannah similarly imprisoned in Vaale after Violet was removed from reality, it’s again argued that Hannah is doomed to turn to the dark side, and the only way to prevent her downfall is the intervention of her friends. Violet and Delilah’s lives similarly take a predicated turn, with both returning to the paths expected of them by their families following the Rat Queens’ dissolvement.
Finally addressing the plot points which ended the first volume, issue 9 of Rat Queens Volume 2 is meaningful, compelling, and progresses both narrative and character arcs while integrating what has come before, marking it the best issue of the second volume to date.