Team books are interesting things, you need to balance the story while also getting each character a good amount of (near) equal screen time. This issue pulls off such balance very well. Each of the Rat Queens gets a moment to let their individual character shine while also moving the story forward. Violet gets to be an awesome drunk dwarf. Betty revealed a little bit about her past (which is about literally all we know about her history now) while also showing off how perceptive she is while super inebriated. Delialah has a touching moment reflecting on what she left behind. And Hannah faces her past directly which leads to an epic and super painful last few pages. Why issue 13 isn’t already in my hands is a crime that will not soon be forgotten. Yet while every main character got their own personal screen time, there is still room for the gang to have time together. But the story isn’t perfect (and I’m not talking about the cliffhanger madness it plagues you with). We start with Violet and Betty resolving the story last issue left lingering. Then we get Delialah using her magic to travel elsewhere, which was slightly jarring but works well once the reader catches up. But once the sequence is over (it lasts four pages) we jump to the Queens in the middle of a snow storm. I once again took a second to settle in, knowing we had changed places and times. Which while slightly jarring, works perfectly. Each portion of the story has its own color palette. You can tell by the first panel of the new local (or in one case new character arriving) that there has been a change. There is no need for a random descriptor panel saying “elsewhere, meanwhile, or cave”, the art gave all the clues you needed. It is similar to how shows like the Wire and Game of Thrones do larger stories, letting the setting and colors tell you we have moved along, demanding the reader keep up.
The emotiveness of the characters is also strong. Pages of dialogue and description are contained in a single drawing of a character. It feels like more of the story is being told in the artwork then before, I don’t think the previous artists had such emotion and movement in their artwork. Which is no slight to the previous artists at all, I just feel Rat Queens may have found the art team it was destined to have. I have been flipping through the pages trying to find specific examples to expand upon, but you can flip to any page of this issue and see the brilliance of the artwork.
Rat Queens may be giving Saga a run for its money in cliffhanger pages. These last two issues have made me crave the new issue more than anything. This issue trumps the last one in that regard. The final few pages build up the tension that isn’t quite relieved. A month has rarely been this long. On the bright side I can reread drunken the badassery that is Violet, Dwarven warrior several more times while I wait.