Story: Marjorie Liu
Art: Sana Takeda
What They Say:
The hunt for answers takes Maika and her friends out to sea…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Getting back into the swing of things with Monstress took a little bit the last time around but the seventh issue served well as a kind of jumping on point with its narrower focus. That largely continues here as Marjorie Liu keeps it to just events on the ship and the various forces at work there rather than weaving tales from around different locations in this rich world. That may seem like a bad thing but it helps to focus on Maika and it gives Sana Takeda a chance to do some really delicious things with character designs. I love the way this series looks and so much of the enjoyment I get from it is because of Takeda’s side of the world building that’s going on. This issue is no exception, even if I get a few flashes of One Piece from it from time to time.
The journey to Bone Isle is something that has some intriguing elements to it in terms of world building alone because a lot of the early part of the journey here is getting to know how this ship is crewed. The captain and two veterans have been there before, though their experience was limited, and it’s made clear that it’s a very bad place that few return from. That has them wary about how the younger crew will react and those that just came on at the last port. The veterans are a whole lot of fun with Jan and Old Tooth as they have a kind of salty seniority about them that’s really engaging. Old Tooth in particular just tickles a fancy for me in how he helps to teach Kippa how to swim a bit when he’s play-drowning at first. It’s cute and silly but Old Tooth has that feel of someone who has been through a lot and looks at life through a hardened lens. Jan is similar in a lot of ways but comes across a bit younger and still a bit like a rogue, which provides for some friction in fun ways between them, particularly in regard to Bone Isle.
Maika has plenty of time in this installment as well, whether being gruff toward the captain and others or just being moody and intense. She also has to deal with the Monstrum inside as it returns to the surface for a while in order to make clear it’s displeased with what she’s doing. Her taking control cost her the remainder of her arm and it makes it clear that it was her own fault in that she basically ate herself over it. The two have some interesting wrestling for control pieces here, both in physical and verbal, and watching each unfold is quite engaging. Maika’s not exactly a wild one but she’s damn close and has little in the way of self control. That said, the time with Monstrum works very well to show the dynamic of how the two of them are operating while also showing what it does to feed, resulting in an encounter with a hidden siren below the surface of the water that points to bigger things coming their way as all manner of things are awakening.
Monstress continues to move at a really good pace, one that’s almost a bit disconcerting after the first six issues of the series. There was so much in there with so many locations and characters that it was overwhelming in all the right ways to hook you. Here, with its smaller focus and slower pace, we get a better look at where Maika is now and the dynamic between her and her compatriots as well as how they come across to others. I really like the crew of this ship, which means we’re going to lose some of them to be sure, but Liu and Takeda do so much in such little space to make us care about them and become invested in them that it reminds you how poorly so many other books out there are doing it.
Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Image Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: November 30th, 2016