Review by Frank Plowright
Elida al-Feyr has a complicated background. She may come across as a female Han Solo, always on the edge of discovery and living from hand to mouth via her spacecraft, but in this case she’s actually the one with the royal background. Well able to handle herself even against formidable enemies, her most fervent desire is to locate her mother, from whom she was separated eight years previously shortly after a thousand year monarchy collapsed.
The plot actually runs considerably deeper than that, but it’s best to discover the twists Magdalene Visaggio throws in as they occur. Elida is given hope via meeting again with Isaac, the person she once rescued from certain death isolated in space, something she’s regretted several times over the years. Theirs is a confrontational buddy relationship, Elida never too sure how close Isaac is to selling her out, an escaped princess carrying a high bounty, and there’s an implacable ideologically driven enemy determined to see a final end to the monarchy.
As space opera Vagrant Queen rolls out very nicely, but when he drew it Jason Smith wasn’t yet the complete artist, and too many wonky figures, strange pieces of perspective, and strained expressions supply the evidence. His greatest strength is a sense of design that carries him a long way, the ice planet of the fifth chapter notable. The art improves from start to finish, but even then it’s the work of an artist who’s promising, but not yet there.
Vagrant Queen has one of those plots that you’ll think can’t be completed in the allocated pages, but it is, and very neatly. People able to prioritise a decent plot over art that’s lacking polish should find this enjoyable. A Planet Called Doom is due to follow in 2020.