Written by Marjorie M. Liu
Art by Sana Takeda
Monstress is back and on issue 16 this week, delving further into the complex mystery that is Maiko, the arcanic half-breed daughter of Moriko, daughter of the Wolf ancient, and unwilling inheritor of the shaman-empress’ power – and the added bonus of being bonded to a monstrum (Old God), called Zinn.
Monstress has been a beautifully told tale by master wordsmith Liu, who has gone from her own tales of self-published work, to a novelist of well-received supernatural thriller romance, then to mainstream Marvel comics where she breathed life into the well-loved X-23 and now finally, onto Image’s Monstress of her own creation, where she has been given full reign to create an awe-inspiring world that blends steampunk, mysticism, Indiana Jones-styled prophecies and of course…monsters.
Yes, there are literal monsters in this – but sometimes the worse monsters are those that carry a human face.
In this issue, Maika, as the direct descendant of the shaman-empress, a legendary arcanic that also was bonded to Zinn, must venture into a laboratory she worked out of to save a city left defenseless after her merging with the tech destroyed their only attempts to thwart an invasion.
This series has a lot of different players and factions, all vying for control and their own end games. You have the ancients, animal-like beings of immense power and magic, and the arcanics – their half-breed offspring with humans. You have humans, of which a small order has risen called the cumuean witches, that essentially consume the bones of the arcane for their inherent magical abilities bestowed upon them from their ancient heritage and last but not least, you have the Monstrum – Old Gods – usually bonded to a knowing (or unsuspecting) arcanic.
I’ve been able to pick up that the Old Gods in this comic (or Monstrum) are very much like the titans of Greek mythology; strong and uncontrollable and inevitably imprisoned to cease the destruction that they caused by the ancients (New Gods). The arcanics are a metaphor for demi-gods and then you have your human mystics able to harness the demi-god’s powers and lastly, normal humans. These monstrums are the wild cards in this series, bound by arcanic blood and in some cases, taking full control over their host, overwhelming their minds. Maika is unique in that she’s reached a semblance of understanding and formed a bond with her Monstrum, very much like her ancestor, the Shaman-Empress.
They break into the laboratory, since due to hereditary luck – Maika has the correct bond with Zinn and the correct genetic keys in her blood – to restore the shields to the neutral city that has offered them sanctuary against all that want them for their potential power.
They do manage to find what they’re looking for to restore the neutral safe haven, but at the cost of learning, there is more to the shaman-empress’ and Zinn’s past that neither have the answers for.