Monstress #11 (Image Comics)
It amazes me how many people have gotten into comics to read this title. It’s high-concept, story and art wise, the sort of thing that you wouldn’t expect people to go for, but the perfect mingling of every aspect of this book makes it more than the sum of its parts.
Let me explain.
Marjorie Liu is one of those talented writers that flies underneath far too many people’s radar. She’s got a subtle knack for world building and characterization that brushes every page; this is a writer who loves language and you get a sense of that in every sentence. She wrote the best version of Laura McKinney (in NYX and X-23), a character you might know as the girl Wolverine from Logan.
She also wrote some of the most heartfelt X-Men comics Marvel has ever published, concentrating on individual characters and finding the heart in each. Those of us that have read her novels (the Dirk and Steele and Hunter Kiss stories) know exactly how good she is at making you care about her characters and the worlds that they live in, and Monstress is one of her most powerful works in that regard.
Set in a fantastic matriarchal society with heavy Asian influence, Monstress tells the tale of semi-magical creatures that can sometimes pass as human and the humans that use them to fuel their magic. This usage sometimes kills and often hurts those being used, and as a result, the magical ones are dehumanized, degraded, broken and discarded – and so our protagonist is one of their number investigating the death of her mother at the hands of wizards.
It’s a tale of faith, of friendship, a fable that digs deep into the guts of institutional racism and the evils of both war and slavery. It’s incredible meaty stuff and every panel is lovingly rendered by artist Sana Takeda. Seriously, every panel in this comic is a portrait – it’s one of the most beautiful comics on the shelves today, and it’d be worth picking up just for the artwork even if the story wasn’t so good.
But by the powers of Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda combined, well, Image Comics is publishing something magical. Whatever else you might grab this week, do not miss this.