Rat Queens, Vol. 7: The Once and Future King by Ryan Ferrier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I gave up on this series a while back, when Volumes 4 and 5 descended into a miasma of incoherence and retconning. I didn't realize it was still being published, but I just discovered this volume. Upon noticing that there was a new writer (since Kurtis Wiebe ran the original series into the ground), I thought....maybe it will be good again?
Unfortunately, maybe is sort of at best.
Oh, don't get me wrong, it's definitely better than Vol. 4 & 5. The new writer, Ryan Ferrier, has a better sense of story and pace. What he doesn't have, at least at this point, is a firmer grasp on the characters. I admit I missed volume 6 which apparently wrought some drastic changes on the Queens as a whole, including Hannah's losing an arm, Violet retiring and marrying the orc Dave (although I would have wished for a less cliched ending for her than to become a housewife and start popping out kids), and a brand-new Queen, the bespectacled, nerdy not-a-swordsperson Madeline, joining the group. Still, this volume doesn't treat Braga or Betty particularly well (Betty's alcoholism has gotten out of control and the Queens do a clumsy intervention). The best story is the first one, the one-off "Swamp Romp Special," with unicorns who turn out to be meat-eating assholes and the Slog Chimp. Violet is still in the Queens for this one (except she's drawn way too girly, which I have complained about before with this series--she needs to be more bearded and brawny) and Betty has not yet fallen into her alcoholic fog, although the foreshadowing is there. In the rest of the volume, the Queens tangle with a loser named Gary who is setting himself up as the self-styled "King of Palisades," although he's such an over-the-top entitled jackass he had me rolling my eyes a bit. But there are interesting plot threads in this story, including Dee's finally using her full god-powers to resurrect the Queens.
All that said, my overall impression is "ehhhh." Even with a different writer, I'm not sure it'd be worth it to buy subsequent volumes. Possibly if given more time, the new creative team would click better, but there's no denying the series has diminished greatly from the heights of the first two volumes. So I guess it comes down to if your love for the previous volumes makes you decide to take a chance on this unproven team. I'm still on the fence about that.
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