Written by: Marjorie Liu
Illustrated by: Sana Takeda
Lettering & Design by: Rus Wooton
Edited by: Jennifer M. Smith
Editorial Assistant: Ceri Riley
When Last We Left Our Heroes: A rift between the Known World and the realm of the Monstra closed just in time to prevent an apocalyptic event but not soon enough to drive a healthy portion of the Arcanic population of Pontus stark raving mad, Maika and Zinn worn down from the fight, and Kippa kidnapped as the result of a double-cross from neckomancer Ren—things looked bleak when we left off in #18. The Cumaea are still hot on Maika’s trail, as are several other factions, and Maika is following Kippa with Corvin acting as her self-appointed vanguard.
In This Issue: Before we pick the main story line back up shortly after the closing of the rift in Pontus, we are treated to a quick vignette about Kippa’s past. As an infant she was blessed—or cursed, as Kippa’s mother would have it—by and Ancient. She was gifted something, though exactly what that is remains to be seen.
The next thing we see is Kippa being taken by her kidnappers to ‘The Doctor’, though we aren’t told much about him—or her. Kippa’s captors are taking a route through the mountains near Pontus, straight through the heart of the collection of Arcanics driven mad by the appearance of the Monstrum in the sky. The crazed Arcanics attack, forcing the group to fight and flee.
Maika and Corvin, meanwhile, are behind them, just leaving Pontus. As they go through the city they witness the Arcanics who were not driven mad by the Monstrum wreaking revenge on the Human population. The mob mentality has taken over—if it looks Human, it dies. The Arcanics turn on Maika and Corvin, intent on killing them regardless of the fact that they, too, are Arcanics, though their features are more human. Maika and Corvin escape, and later that night Maika dreams of Tuya—dead. Corvin wakes her from her nightmare. He is bleeding from underneath his quarter-mask, and reveals to Maika that he, too, was at Constantine, and the Dusk Court knows that Maika knows what happened there—as do seven others who survived Constantine with her.
Kippa, meanwhile, is making every effort to escape her captors. Her final gambit—the old, tried-and-true ‘I have to pee’—allows her to get away into some ruins, but she is met with a dark pit in front and a gang of angry kidnappers behind. She cuts her losses and jumps, and we leave her with her eyes wide in the dark of the Tomb of Baru, the dead Bear King, where she sees…something.
My Two Cents: I have been following this book for a while now, and the thing I love the most about it is the world building. It is complex and detailed and intricate and, yes, occasionally confusing, but it’s believable. You never question it when a character who has the top half of a shark and the bottom half of a human shows up—that’s par for the course. The universe is a mix of High Fantasy and Steampunk which work beautifully together. There is never a point where you question the validity of a choice insofar as setting. Sana Takeda’s art in this series has been and continues to be beautiful and detailed—I can’t even imagine the time and effort it takes to create page after page of meticulous visuals. Honestly, I think the art alone could carry the story, so when you pair it with Marjorie Liu’s epic, sweeping writing what you have is an astonishing three-dimensional creation—a wholly immersive experience.