Monstress #6 brings us to the conclusion of the first arc of the series, and it’s one that packs a punch from beginning to end. Human Cumaeans and half-breed Arcanics are at the brink of war, but both groups also pose a serious threat to Maika, still on the search to find out who killed her mother.
We last found Maika captured by the Arcanic Dusk Court and immediately discover that her situation is dire. While Maika is an Arcanic herself, the Dusk Court is not looking to assist her in anyway and have trapped her in an ancient sleep chamber. This leads to one of the most interesting scenarios to date; flashbacks into Maika’s memories alongside the Monstrum and sleep-state conscious Maika. Not only do we get insight into her past, but insight into what’s kept her alive all this time. Even at the brink of death, we see Maika push through with unwavering tenacity.
All of this is beautifully drawn by Sana Takeda, who may be one of the best artists in the game. Every panel is intricately detailed and every cover should be displayed in a museum. The use of color and lack thereof in Maika’s unconscious state is smartly used not only to let the reader know the sequence of events, but to highlight a major moment in the story, and it shows how much thought goes into the series by both Takeda and writer Marjorie Liu.
There is no lack of depth in Monstress and while Maika struggles internally, a battle wages between the Cumaea’s top brass and warriors of the Dusk Court. Takeda’s artwork shines in massive backdrops and detailed costumes but continues to amaze in action sequences. Even with dozens of characters on the page, each is detailed with unique armor and expressions that match the intensity of the situation.
The dialogue lends itself well in this issue by giving readers just enough information to piece together the conclusion of this complex first arc. We get to see and hear more of the Monstrum than ever before and the use of pauses between statements gives it a brooding, otherworldly feel.
One of the most compelling parts of Monstress is that violence is not only used to create drama, but also highlight the tragedy of the world. Whether innocent or not, death is gruesome. We may cheer when a villain dies, but it’s also a reminder of how terribly tragic war can be. Maika may partake in this gruesome violence, but she is as much a victim of the situation as any other survivor.
Monstress #6 does what very few comics can by building a world where adorable, innocent creatures exist with horrific monsters that ravage and murder. It’s staggeringly beautiful art is matched by its well crafted story. It is a breath of fresh, if not menacing, air. The first arc of Monstress is an absolute must read for anyone interested in a complex, diverse story filled with bold characters.
- Beautifully intricate artwork from start to finish
- Excellently paced story that packs a punch, with a solid payoff at the end of the story arc
- Story-based and emotional surprises
- Having to wait for the next arc to start