-This article was possible due to the gift of a review copy, QWERTY, and rolling natural 20s.
Guest Writer: Bryan Parke
Story: Marjorie Liu
Art / Cover: Sana Takeda
Monstress #13 provides the opening scene for the next chapter in the story of Maika Halfwolf, Kippa the Arcanic fox girl, and Ren the Nekromancer cat as Maika seeks to free herself of the mysterious otherworldy Mysterium Zinn that shares both her mind and body.
The companions find themselves trapped within the refuge of Pontus Waters, beyond the reach of the Blood Queens, yet unable to travel any further whilst Zinn’s hold continues to grow over the Halfwolf. And in the meantime, other factions like the Dawn Court politic and maneuver in their attempts to gain or hold power and lay their hands on Maika.
The rulers of Pontus offer Maika sanctuary in return for powering their fabled shield; unbidden Zinn manifests and accepts the offer! What is the Mysterium plotting by agreeing to this?
The issue ends with another insightful lecture from the learned feline Professor Tam Tam, giving the reader a further glimpse into the lore of Monstress.
Monstress #13 is a real treat to read. There is a great depth to both the story and the underlying mythology, and the characters are all engaging and rounded; Maika is driven and sometimes selfish whilst the young innocent Kippa provides the conscience of the group.
The artwork is simply beautiful; from the detailed portrait of Vihn Nem to the endearing panels of Kippa showing pure emotion on her face via the renditions of the horrific Zinn, the drawings are exquisite and the colouring always suits the scene. In particular it is the drawings of the more fantastic elements (the Arcanics (I love Old Tooth) and the Mysteriums) I find appealing.
And I must mention the cats; not trusted by many (and with good reason), Ren finds himself among his own kind (and up to no good). The cats are portrayed well and without unnecessary anthropomorphism (they are still cats); I wish my cat would make and serve a decent cup of tea as the feline residents of Pontus seem capable of doing!
I’ve read all the previous issues of Monstress, and I honestly believe the series is an under-rated gem. This leads to my only criticism of #13; the brief “Story so far” at the beginning of the issue doesn’t do the series justice and a new reader would be well advised to start at the beginning of Maika’s journey and enjoy every step of the trip rather than jumping into uncharted Pontus Waters.
I can’t wait for issue #14.