Review: Monstress #2

There were some heavy hitters among the comics that make the shelves this week, and Monstress #2 arrives and counts itself among them by dropping issue two and hitting as heavy as the rest, if not heavier. Rule 1: please tell everyone about Monstress. The witch house is recovering from Maika’s grueling prison break and their version of law enforcement called the Inquisitrix arrives to get them by any means possible. Meanwhile Maika continues to try to find ways to escape what she calls “the hunger” either by getting incredibly drunk, or by actually trying to escape through the border of both the Arcanic lands and the human side, as she does this she slowly remembers what happened during her escape and how it all relates to the mask.

Monstress-#2-1This issue has a feeling that it moves to the sides as well as forward The world continues to build around Maika as she tries to find answers to the mystery of her mother’s murder. Everything continues to be shrouded in an aura of mystery, and it seems every issue will answer a question and make two more, more so about the world than about Maika. This isn’t necessarily bad, Marjorie Liu’s prose-writing background shines through as she creates very well-rounded characters in a world she continues to build in this issue. There is an enormous amount of thought gone into each faction of the book, even the side characters have enough dialogue to make them three-dimensional. Someone as seemingly measly as a traveler on the side of the road is investigated upon, as Miaka is trying to pass by as another human without being noticed, this builds up the tension and lets itself live in the moment. Being able to pause for tension is something that is sometimes lost with comics and the worry of page count.

Sana Takeda’s art continues to impress and mesmerize. There isn’t a panel you don’t stop and admire every corner of it. Although more splash pages would have more than welcomed (please, give us more splash pages), the panel layouts a flow with the precision necessary to move the story and show every facet of Maika’s emotional journey throughout this issue, and she goes through a big one. She learns a lot of what happened to her the last time “the hunger” took over, and why she’s escaping her best friend and anyone who gets close to her, as she desperately wants to find answers about her mom, the mask, and that horrible power. Takeda changes the complete mood of each scene with everything she does in the pages, it’s not just one slight change but many that make one continue to change the page every time.

The extras in this issue are very welcomed. I’m definitely signed up full-time for Professor Tam Tam’s classes, and I’ll take anything that continues to explain that massive world this creative team are building towards.

There were a couple of setbacks on this issue, one was mentioned before and it’s the almost complete lack of a splash page, with an artist as incredibly talented as Sana Takeda it should almost be a requirement to have at least two splash pages per issue. The second thing that needs to be addressed is the short-term goals of the main character. Although she has a clear goal that drives her very well throughout the series, there seems to be a lack of a short-term goal that could carry the reader through a smaller arc. We know the answers Maika is looking for, but we’re not sure what steps will she take to get to those answers.

Monstress #2 is a story packed issue, it continues to build the world and as long as it’s continuously delivered month to month, it’s well on its way to be another Image juggernaut.

Score: 4/5

Monstress #2 Writer: Marjorie Liu Artist: Sana Takeda Letterer: Rus Wotoon Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/9/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital