Kurtis Wiebe should just give it up. A Rat Queens soft reboot was announced over at Newsarama, with new artist Owen Gieni and a new #1 coming out in March. Gieni makes the fourth full time artist to work on the title after creator Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Sejic, and Tess Fowler. Upchurch left the title after an arrest for domestic violence, and Fowler more recently left after learning that Wiebe colluded with publisher Image Comics to bring Upchurch back onto the title–and refused to take responsibility for lateness on submitting his scripts.
At the time of its launch, Rat Queens seemed a dream come true for an industry hungry for more female representation (although that representation didn’t exist behind the page until Fowler’s entrance). Since then, it’s become another story of men profiting off the backs of women and putting their own male interests ahead of women in the industry. The fact that Upchurch attended New York Comic Con this year comfortably, with Rat Queens fans greeting him and without a peep from the always-compliant and sexist comics industry, makes the title only more toxic. It’s hard to imagine why any woman who has heard the full story would want to go within ten feet of a copy of the new #1.
It’s a shame, because Gieni is a very talented artist. He did a breathtaking job on Negative Space with Ryan K. Lindsay and deserves all the work he ever needs. If this had been any other title, I would have had congratulations and more for him.
But the time when Rat Queens might have ever been something more than a fantasy comic book with female protagonists is over. It’s not the next step toward a feminist comics industry. It’s not an incredible work of art, either; enough time has passed where the last arc (or two?) has faded out of a casual reader’s recollection. Wiebe needs to learn when to let a project–even if it’s a near blowout success–go. Rat Queens is dead. And thanks to Upchurch, whose creative input really isn’t necessary, it never really was what we thought it was in the first place.