Your Past Catches Up With You (Monstress #21 Comic Review)

Written by: Marjorie Liu
Illustrated by: Sana Takeda
Lettering & Design by: Rus Wooton
Edited by: Jennifer M. Smith
Editorial Assistant: Ceri Riley

War looms and the already tangled web becomes even moreso. Friends become enemies and enemies friends, and the balance hangs by a thread.

In This Issue: Tuya, the Baroness of the Last Dusk, has wed the Dawn Court’s Warlord—Moriko Halfwolf’s sister, and Maika’s aunt. The marriage was purely strategic, an effort to ally the Arcanic courts ahead of the impending war, but with Tuya’s connection to Maika it is rife with both difficulties and possibilities. Difficulties because of the Warlord’s obsession with the anomaly at Constantine (and the fact that it seems that she doesn’t yet know of her niece’s involvement.) Possibilities because now Tuya has a better means to find Maika.

Maika awakes from a drug-induced slumber to a new mechanical arm, attached to her by a man who claims to be her father. The eye on his chest that matches Maika’s and his possession of photographs of himself and Maika as an infant would lead one to believe him, but Maika, of course, is unmoved, even with the revelation that Zinn, the Monstrum who inhabits her, was passed into her by this man. (He also turns out to be the fabled ‘Doctor’ who had Kippa kidnapped.

The Doctor is amassing an army against the coming war, complete with a team of War Masters—fabled Arcanic warriors, each with a reputation of ruthlessness. Maika knows all of them but one, a representative of the sea ancients who is there to observe and report in order to aid the sea ancients in choosing a side in the coming conflict—or not. The Doctor calls his Arcanic amalgam the Blood Court, and it appears that Nekomancer Master Ren is also a member, though he has yet to arrive.

My Two Cents: Another trip down the intrigue rabbit hole this month! All information points to the Doctor legitimately being Maika’s biological father, and his formation of the Blood Court and bringing Maika into play in his grand scheme speaks to something much, much larger. Presumably the Dawn Court—Maika’s maternal family—will have an opinion on her allegiances, possibly a violent one. With the new alliance between the Dusk and Dawn Courts through the marriage of Tuya and the Warlord, the possibility of a joint Arcanic court army is certainly something to be considered, but we’ll have to wait and see. The other possibility is that the Doctor’s plan is to subdue all other factions—Arcanic, Human, Cumaean—and now that he has Maika, and with her, Zinn, if he plays his cards right he could win.

The developing plot is, as always, supported by Liu’s involved storytelling and Takeda’s intricate art, pulling the reader into the world of the book. At this point in the series, we trust them to set everything up in such a painstaking manner that when we do reach a major action point we’re much less likely to be as confused as we could be with such a large cast of characters.

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Elizabeth Fazzio
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org
Elizabeth Fazzio
Summary
So far, the Monstress universe has been fairly female-dominated, so I was honestly a little surprised to see that Maika's paternal line come into play in such a profound capacity. Only a little, however. From what we know of Moriko Halfwolf, I personally feel that it would have been unlikely for Maika's father to be anyone who was in any way particularly mild-mannered. We've got a whole new layer of plot to be working with now, and there are so many already in motion I'm starting to wonder if it might be advisable to make myself some sort of organizational chart to help keep track. While this does occasionally make things difficult on the who's-who front, it's not so much of a problem that it takes too much away from following the story line. There's usually enough of a reminder provided in the surrounding dialogue to clue you back in to how everyone fits into this fantastical world.
Good
  • Extras within the book
  • Art and story blend seamlessly
  • Story elements are balanced
  • Seamless worldbuilding
  • Layered storytelling
Bad
  • There are occassional moments when there is so much going on that you can get a little lost in the images.
  • It's easy to get lost in the intrigue, but eventually you figure it out
8.4
Great
Art - 9
Story - 7.5
Writing - 9
Predictability - 8
Written by
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org

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