Review: MONSTRESS #13

Written by Marjorie Liu
Art by Sana Takeda and Russ Wooten
Edited by Jennifer M. Smith, Ceri Riley
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: January 24, 2018

In literature there are worlds that we wish we could go to and be a part of of. Worlds that are so beautiful depicted in word and art that they draw us in and fill our imaginations with wonders. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s Monstress is one of those worlds. The combination of Liu’s prose with Takeda’s stylized art make for an immersive reading experience. Issue #13 of the series picks up not long after the events of last years issue #12 and already begins to take the story to the next level.

Marjorie Liu writes an impressive story that is filled with so many wonderful moving parts. She is able to successfully flow the story in a way that naturally takes the reader from scene to scene without being confusing. Even though there are a large number of characters and storylines going on in this issue they all fit together in a very organic way, much the same way as the artwork. The dialogue is especially lovely and dances along with a poetic rhythm to it that is perfectly punctuated with contemporary curse words. This rhythm is persistent throughout the story giving even action scenes a balletic elegance to them. Though there is so much going on in this issue there are a number of moments of repose for all the characters. It’s moments of wordless storytelling that are just as important and have as much weight for the story’s flow as do big set pieces. This works well for the reader as they catch back up with everything since it’s been a few months since the last issue. It does not take long though to fall back into the swing of things. Liu’s world building continues in this issue as we meet new characters and new places as Maika continues her physical and personal journey.

There are a number of synonyms for beautiful, any of which could be used to aptly describe Takeda’s work on Monstress. Sometimes, though, it takes more than words to describe the quality of work in art. There is a feeling that is created by Takeda’s illustration of Liu’s story that is not only beautiful but elegant and consuming . Her art gives the story a fairy tale quality to it and ingrains a sort of lasting legacy that elevates the story to a whole other level. There are a number of other things at work here too that communicates the fairy tale vibe. The successful combination of realistic looking characters with cute animals and terrifying monsters works perfectly. It’s all presented to the reader through the framework of early 20th century art deco that has been infused with classic Japanese wood block art work and a more modern manga art style. It’s a successful merger of these different styles that seems to give the reader the experience of reading a fairy tale book. Takeda’s costume designs are almost a whole genre of art to themselves and please the eye as it follows the graceful designs that envelope the characters like perfect packaging. The beauty of the costume design is nicely balanced out by the cluttered look of the cities that are visited and sprawling overgrowth of nature. Russ Wooten’s lettering of the issue perfecting blends in with the entire story. It gives a personal voice to Maika in her writing to Tuya and doesn’t detract from the beauty of Takeda’s art.

Reading Monstress is absolutely more an experience than just reading another comic book. It’s another great example of a creative team meshing together and making each other’s abilities shine even more. Now is the perfect time to jump on board Monstress and go back and read or reread the first 12 issues. It is time in another world that is well spent.

The Verdict: 10/10

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