After multiple controversies and a lot of questions about the book's future, Rat Queens is returning to Image Comics with a new first issue and a new artist, Owen Gieni, joining writer Kurtis J. Wiebe.

For anyone not familiar with its original run, Rat Queens is a comic about an all-female adventuring party in a Dungeons and Dragons-inspired world. The book was originally launched in 2013 by Wiebe and Roc Upchurch. In 2014, Upchurch was arrested for domestic violence, and Wiebe announced that he was off the book. After a Stjepan Šejic run that lasted only two issues, Tess Fowler and Tamra Bonvillain became the ongoing art team.

Earlier this year, Fowler told followers on Twitter that she was being pushed off the book to allow for the return Roc Upchurch. Kurtis Wiebe released a statement denying this, and said that he had removed Fowler from the book due to creative differences. Our colleagues at the Mary Sue covered this controversy at length. After that, a lot of us were waiting to see what happened next... and we kept waiting for six months.

With this week's announcement, we can see that Roc Upchurch is not back as Rat Queens' artist, though it's likely that he still has a financial stake as the book's co-creator. We'll likely never know if this was always Wiebe's intention, or if Fowler's public statements brought about a course correction. Frankly, the whole thing is a bit of a mess.

But there is more Rat Queens coming, with the first issue arriving March 1, 2017. It's up to you if you want to read it.

 

Owen Gieni

 

From the Image press release:

Image/Shadowline Comics is pleased to announce that the New York Times bestselling, fan-favorite series RAT QUEENS, written and co-created by Kurtis J. Wiebe, will return this March with a new series artist—Owen Gieni (MANIFEST DESTINY).

“Cat Kings and Other Gary’s: Part One” begins a fresh, soft-reboot and the Rat Queens are back in action! Everybody’s favorite butt-kickers—Betty, Violet, Dee, Braga, and Hannah—return in RAT QUEENS, VOL. 2 #1. Palisade is still a rat-infested troll’s ass and everyone still hates Gary. It’s been awhile since the Queens have done a good slaughter, so join them as they get back to the basics of killing monsters and drinking away the profits.

"Owen's style brings a real return to high adventure, insane action and character comedy,” said Wiebe. “He has an amazing talent for crafting a world and when his characters act, they feel genuine and real. Writing scripts for Owen is the most fun I've had on the series in a very long time. Our new start with Rat Queens is getting back to the basics. Four friends who kill monsters for money. Except it's even weirder."

Gieni added: “Having this opportunity to bring these loved characters to life is a dream come true. I've been a fan of Rat Queens since its first issue, so it’s such an awesome experience to play in this massive world. It's the ultimate collaboration, breaking story with Kurtis, laughing the whole time as we create new adventures really comes through in the final product. I can't wait for readers to discover Rat Queens again."