Last issue ended on a cliffhanger where Hannah had an arrow flying towards her ready to murder kill her. This issue picks up with a flashback about Hannah in magic school meeting Tizzie, a fellow magic user. Tizzie wakes up in the middle of the big battle going on, makes her way towards Hannah and friends, and then casually destroys the arrow as if it didn't matter. Which works for me, the arrow wasn't going to actually hit, and having the start of the issue ignore it for so long before making it a non event, is great. 10 points for originality. There is something about this issue, and this book that I feel make it deserving very high praise, and I am trying to pinpoint what exactly it is. I don't think it is the cliffhanger dismissal, which is awesome, but doesn't feel like enough. So let us carry on as I try to work it out.
The Rat Queens work on dispatching enemies left and right in some cool looking pages. Hannah is using her magic to full effect, Braga decapitating and mocking mages who need to read spells to cast them, and more. The action is everything you need in a fantasy comic and more. Artist Stjepan Sejic continues to knock it out of the park. The artwork still feels kinetic, and the colors are near perfection (a little more on this later) if I have a complaint is that I now wish the whole series was done by Sejic up to this point as the disjointedness of this arc will bother my perfecting seeking mind.
Then we have Orc Dave. Probably my second favorite supporting character, at least my favorite male character in the series. We have Orc Dave causing the needed distraction and crowd controlling druid spell to let the Rat Queens make it past the innumerable forces. But the best moment is when Orc Dave and Violet kiss, mid battle, mid spell, in the rain. That is probably one of the sweetest, aww inducing page I have ever seen in a comic. And it is done perfectly. The pair are drawn in such a way that is sweet, sexy, and heroic. Violet still has her sword in hand, ready to fight once the kiss is over, Orc Dave has a glowing crystal in his staff, holding off the minions. The color is muted around them, gray sky, soft browns, even the armor of the minions is a more subtle orange than the page before. I want this page as a poster, ugh this page.
But even that sequence, and that magnificent page aren't exactly what makes this such a great comic. Nor is it the Cthulian creatures wrecking havoc and looking mind bendingly menacing. Or the bad guy who summoned the monsters having a flashback that shows off why he is causing such chaos. Or Dee facing the fear and unknown and finding out for sure the god N'Rygoth exists (in the second page I want as a poster asap), but still denying she wants part of what that god stands for. Even while now being the high priestess of that tradition. Which will be making for some excellent, excellent stories.
Maybe it is the last Hannah flashback we get. Where she reveals something to Sawyer, long hidden. Where she shows off horns she hides in her hair, that illustrate her demonic nature. And Sawyer stops and reacts with silence and hesitation. In a way that hurts Hannah more than any arrow could have, that is as much as a character moment as an honest human moment. We all have something about us we are insecure about, some silly body image issue that we don't want to show off. Some trait about ourselves we feel is a giant deal breaker for anyone, and when we show it to someone, we want some kind of acceptance, and anything else, even a moment's hesitation can just ruin us completely. Which happens here, and it is heartbreaking, and sad. How this fantasy comic can be a high fantasy romp, a smart story, and have a deep emotional resonance makes it a book that needs to be praised. It needs to be read. And now with this arc done, and after it is collected next month, you owe it to yourself to read it.