A comiXologist (Tia) recommends Monstress
Words by Marjorie Liu
Art by Sana Takeda
The monster-sized debut issue of Monstress (66 gorgeous pages!) introduced readers to the brutal and magical world of Maika. A teenage girl with a psychic link to a formidable monster, Maika is searching for answers about who she is and what this ability means for her identity.
In issue 2, Maika refers to the monster as “the Hunger.” In a book that seems to embrace word play in its very title (monstress/monstrous), naming her monster the Hunger hails a powerful association with the ultimate sin of femininity. We just can’t seem to get over that story about Eve eating the apple. (You couldn’t wait until lunch, Eve? Come on!) Historically, in the real world, “good” femininity rejects hungers, denies desires, speaks softly, takes up as little space as possible. But in the world of Monstress, magic is the ultimate power, and magic is located in the bodies of creatures called Arcanics, who are traded as slaves among the ruling class of sorceresses who literally consume Arcanic flesh to possess their magic. Hunger, therefore, is the precedent to power, and one’s agency in such a transaction is shaping up to be a central theme in this book.
Maika fears her Hunger because she feels powerless over it, and I can’t help but think of this as a metaphor many women can identify with. I look forward to seeing what direction Liu and Takeda take the relationship between Maika and her Hunger. Operating in what I can only describe as a Miyazaki-esque paradigm (coming from me this is extremely high praise), Liu strikes a satisfying balance of whimsy and gravitas in the writing, and Takeda’s art is resplendent with texture, pattern, and light. I can think of no better team to explore such important themes.
Tia Vasiliou is a Digital Editor at ComiXology. Her favorite Miyazaki film is Spirited Away. Wait, no. It’s Howl’s Moving Castle. No, Nausicaä! Or maybe Princess Mononoke? You know what, don’t make her choose…