MONSTRESS, written by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda, is an all-new series from IMAGE comics. At the center of the story is Maika Halfwolf, a young arcanic (i.e. non-human) girl with a mysterious past and an even more mysterious power she can’t control. Tortured by the murder of her mother, Maika searches for both answers and revenge to her mother’s death with a single-minded focus. With only 3 issues out so far, the fantasy epic is focused primarily on world building and setting the stage for what promises to be an out-of-this-world plot full of deception, betrayal, discovery, witches, arcanists, spirits, magic, ghosts, and gods. Set during a fragile truce between the Arcanic and the Human Federation (The Motherland) and their Cumaea allies, MONSTRESS is a story about war and the effects of war on those most often forgotten – the victims. Along the way, however, MONSTRESS addresses timeless issues surrounding race, power negotiations, slavery, inequality, what it means to be human, the power of memory to shape both identity and the role the dead play in transforming ongoing life.

LISTEN: Did you know Marjorie Liu wrote for Marvel’s ASTONISHING X-MEN? Our podcast on Emma Frost is a great introduction to the X-Men world!

In this podcast, ComicsVerse contributors Kay Honda, Kristine Don, Mirae Lee, Emily Coleman, and Génesis Tuyuc examine how Liu and Takeda use fantasy as a means to explore oppression, subjugation, race and gender relations, and the idea of otherness in the war-ravaged world of MONSTRESS. How do Liu and Takeda use a matriarchal society to subvert genre standards? How do Liu and Takeda enrich the world of MONSTRESS, specifically with the use Asian mythology and landscapes?

We also consider Maika as a protagonist and what her relationships or lack thereof reveal about who she was, who she is, and who she isn’t. Is Maika a hero in the strictest sense or is she morally ambiguous? What is the significance of her handicap? What is the importance of the highly feared and desired ‘mask’ which Maika carries within her? Who are these Leviathans and why is Maika the only one who can see them? How can we analyze each character using Batson’s Truth Characterization and what does this reveal about their truth, their flaw, and their conflict?

CLICK: Want to read more MONSTRESS? We analyzed the first issue rather extensively in this review!

This podcast delves into the power storytelling has to reveal uncomfortable truths about the monster in all of us. From all of us here at ComicsVerse, we hope you enjoy this podcast and join us in our discussion of the fantasy epic MONSTRESS in the comments below!

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