August 18, 2018

Review: Rat Queens, Vol. 5: The Colossal Magic Nothing

Rat Queens, Vol. 5: The Colossal Magic Nothing Rat Queens, Vol. 5: The Colossal Magic Nothing by Kurtis J. Wiebe
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

I really enjoyed Rat Queens Volumes 1 & 2. With volume 3, "Demons," the series unfortunately took a hard and fast turn for the worse. The Mage University storyline ended on a cliffhanger, with Hannah in a "void prison" and the Queens broken up. Volume 4 disregarded all of this in favor of a soft reboot that restarted the storyline and characters. Yet Kurtis J. Wiebe kept insisting the events in "Demons" were still canon, and promised to address them.

Now he has, and I fervently wish he had left well enough alone.

To put it bluntly, "The Colossal Magic Nothing" is a hot, frustrating mess. The opener, the "Orc Dave Special," is pretty interesting, and better, art- and story-wise, than the rest of the volume put together. "Chapter Six" starts out promisingly, with typical Queens rapid-fire banter, but midway through the art style shifts to some weird Betty Boop-style crap (to show the entrance to another world, I guess) and things start going downhill from there. The further along I read, the more dissatisfied I became, and the less I understood. As near as I can figure out, the fracturing of the Queens in volume 3 led to a splintering of the entire timeline. Hannah eventually escaped from the void prison, but her fury at her supposed abandonment led her to traveling back and forth in time, taking revenge on those who used to be her friends.

This is not only stupid, it is completely unnecessary. Look, Hannah Vizari is a fascinating, complex character. She is the damaged, powerful, cynical, morally ambiguous yin to Betty's upbeat, positive, loving and loyal yang. (Needless to say, those two are my favorite Queens, with Braga a close third.) Exploring Hannah's backstory is entirely legitimate, and I'm not saying to make her a guilty mage searching for redemption, either. Although that could be an excellent story as well, a sort of Queens version of Xena: Warrior Princess.

However, the horrid, misbegotten Mage University storyline was NOT the way to do it. Wiebe really let his audience down, and in my opinion, he has been flailing about aimlessly ever since.

Thus, we get this convoluted, mixed-up, time-twisting revenge idiocy that purports to be an "explanation." Our beloved characters are not acting remotely like themselves, and I can hardly make sense of anything that's going on. Just as a side complaint, I don't like the way Violet is drawn this time around at ALL. She's way too girly and pouty-lipped, even with her sideburns. And wearing a dress? Come on, people.

Also, what the hell happened to Braga? In chapters nine and ten, she vanishes, with no explanation. This is just poor storytelling, and shows great disrespect for one's readers.

Bah. I am very disappointed. I would rather Wiebe had resorted to the cliched retcon of "it was all a [bad] dream" than this. If this is what the series is going to be going forward, just shut it down entirely, please. At least I would have the first two good volumes to go back to.

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