Review: Monstress #3

monstress_03-1In its first two issues, Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s Monstress has not been for the faint of heart, and #3 is no different. It premiered with a triple-sized first issue in December and tells the story of Maika, an Arcanic hybrid with a psychic link to a powerful supernatural being. Although the new issue doesn’t do much to advance the plot in terms of time passing, it puts a generous scratch in the surface of the comic’s mythology.

Until now, the story has mainly been Maika’s actions and their repercussions, with bits and pieces of her background told as flashbacks. The divide between Human and Arcanic is a history told in passing comments and context clues, as is much of Maika’s past.

Monstress #3 finally begins to bring everything the reader has learned into sharper focus, something that has also begun to extend to other characters like Kippa, Master Ren, and the Inquisitrixes. In this issue, Maika is forced to confront the connection with what she calls her “hunger,” a voice denoted only by its blue speech balloons. The suspense of knowing this character only through its voice is something this comic does well, and the outcome of this suspense is all the more satisfying because of it.

Much of the satisfying payoff is due to Sana Takeda’s art. She and Marjorie Liu have created a beautiful world, despite the tragic and violent nature of the story. Takeda has a remarkable ability to translate movement onto the page, breathing life to human and Arcanic characters and fantastical creatures alike. Everyday scenes are full of soft lines and muted colors while flashbacks are colored in rich golds and jewel tones, alluding to, perhaps, something of a better time in Maika’s life. Takeda’s art is dreamy, which has the effect of softening some of the weight that comes with a violent comic that deals with heavy topics like slavery and suicide.

Monstress #3 breaks the use of flashbacks, however, and sticks to an entirely linear structure. It doesn’t cover much in terms of timeline, but pulls finer details into a more cohesive and fuller story. As usual, the comic works for its Mature rating, but if readers can stomach the blood, Monstress is absolutely worth the read. Monstress will return after a short break in mid-March with #4.

Story: Marjorie Liu Art: Sana Takeda
Story: 8.9 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy of this comic for review