“There was a war. There is always a war.” (Monstress #22 Comic Review)

User Rating: 9

Written by: Marjorie Liu

Illustrated by: Sana Takeda

Lettering & Design by: Rus Wooton

Edited by: Jennifer M. Smith

Editorial Assistant: Ceri Riley

“Trust only those who bleed for you.”

In This Issue: Kippa and her would-be captor, Yafaela, discover the reason that no one has ever survived the Tomb of Baru. In addition to its creepy specter inhabitants, it is home to a Dracul, similar in looks to a cross between Zinn, Maika’s Monstrum, and a dragon thought to be fictional. This one, a lady Dracul, is definitely real, and she tells Kippa the history of her kind, travelers between worlds and the starts, and the Known World’s Old Gods, refugees of the war which destroyed the roads the Dracul and her kind had traveled. Thanks to Kippa’s attentiveness and unexpected innocent wisdom, the Dracul sends her and Yafaela back to the surface.

The Doctor and his War Masters, with Maika present, discuss the coming war. Possibilities for alliances, outcomes, the Monstrum, the wedding of the Baroness to the Warlord. The Doctor slides in a mention of “…best friends lover…” in reference to the fact that the Baroness becomes whatever and whoever the Dusk Court needs at any given time, but Maika doesn’t seem to notice—she is not impressed or convinced by any of it, especially the Doctor himself. Though he wishes for her to stay, Maika makes it clear that she intends to leave as soon as Kippa and Ren are returned to her.

Kippa, Yafaela, and the Dracul’s minion captaining the boat that takes them to the surface have arrived, and Kippa makes a quick deal with the minion to hang on to Yafaela for a few minutes to give herself a head start. (Yafaela is not impressed.) Once she has hurtled headlong into the forest, Kippa overhears a pair of soldiers looking for “The Crow”—Lord Corvin. Kippa finds him first. He is in no fit shape to try to fight, so she covers him as best she can with forest debris and sets off to lead the soldiers away from him.

Maika takes the photographs of herself with the Doctor, her mother, Ren, and herself as a child, talking to Zinn all the while. Zinn has been silent, asleep, since Maika reached the Doctor’s stronghold, and she finds herself at a bit of a loss without him. Yvette Lo Lim appears out of thin air and claims that she, too, now lacks the voice, the hunger. Maika tries to leave the old woman behind, but Yvette follows for a short while, telling Maika vague bits and pieces of her past until she stops abruptly, saying “…Moriko should have saved herself…

Maika punches a wall.

The Doctor finds her and tells her not to take notice of the ramblings of a demented witch. They enter his lab where the Doctor returns the pieces of the mask to Maika, though he despairs of her ambivalence toward the artifact and everything it was to her mother. But the mask isn’t the most interesting thing the Doctor has secreted away in his laboratory.

My Two Cents: Liu and Takeda deliver another beautifully crafted issue this month. Takeda’s art continues to dazzle, its intricacies drawing the eye to the details of the panels. The story remains as layered and complex as ever. This does tend to get confusing, but while a reader may forget a detail or two, they can fill in the blanks for themselves easily enough. Liu’s dialogue has a natural flow and that helps to make even the more expository passages engrossing, which is helpful at the moment because we are having a great deal of information slung at us in the build-up to what we can only assume will be a labyrinthine conclusion to the current arc, and possibly (probably,) the beginning of the next one.

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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
Elizabeth Fazzio

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The Doctor clearly knows far more than he's letting on. The question is, how much, and what does he intend to do with that knowledge? With two more issues in this arc, we're either headed for a crucial event or an enormous cliffhanger. Maika, Kippa, Ren, and Corvin are likely to be reunited soon and it will be interesting to see if Maika follows through on her promise to leave the Doctor's stronghold once she has her friends back or if something happens to prevent that. Will we learn the extent of Ren's double agency? What is the importance of Kippa's gift in all of this? And possibly the biggest question of all is what exactly is Tuya's part in this web of intrigue, and how and why does the Doctor know so much about it?
  • Art and story blend seamlessly
  • Story elements are balanced
  • Seamless worldbuilding
  • Layered storytelling
  • 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
Art - 9
Story - 9
Writing - 9
Predictability - 9
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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