MONSTRESS #19 BY MARJORIE LIU, SANA TAKEDA, AND RUS WOOTON
Plot
Art
Characterization
Summary
MONSTRESS #19 reveals a few twists and fleshes out Maika and Kippa. The pacing is good, panels flow well with an air of despair, and there's a few teases set up like chess pieces. The new revelations no doubt will come into play in future issues. Welcome back MONSTRESS!
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A RETURN TO FORM
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After a six month hiatus, MONSTRESS is finally back! Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s dark, steampunk epic continues to intrigue and keep readers on the edge of their seats. It’s no surprise then that MONSTRESS #19 finds new ways to shock and awe with its mystical, Asian-inspired artwork. All the while, we get some new revelations as Liu and Takeda raise new questions. Nevertheless, MONSTRESS #19 successfully balances two plot points.

Arcanics are out for Human blood

MONSTRESS #19 begins with a flashback to Kippa as an infant. A mysterious hooded figure bestows Kippa’s head with a light. Then, we meet Kippa’s parents as Kippa’s mother orders the intruder to get away from the baby. We also meet Kippa’s drunkard father who wakes when the act takes place. Furthermore, we learn that the hooded figure is Ancient who either blesses or curses Kippa.

With arcanics suddenly going mad, Kippa’s eyes start to glow. Thus, her gift awakens after she sees one of her captors savagely die. Notably, Kippa possesses an ability that allows her to see people’s energy in an alternate dimension. This gift comes into play again later on in the story when we learn Kippa’s captors’ names, siblings Dia and Yafaela.

The plot bounces between Kippa’s capture and Maika and Corvin’s search for Kippa. While Kippa struggles with her captors, Maika and Corvin fight a mob of arcanics. The arcanics mistake Maika for a being human. Zinn is noticeably absent in this issue, but Maika and Zinn manage to hold their own.

New Revelations, New Characters

MONSTRESS #19 introduces us a to few new characters. Dia and Yafaela, for example, are elf-like arcanics with horns. What makes them interesting is that they don’t seem to be evil protagonists. Indeed, Liu seems to have more in store for Dia and Yafaela because we learn that they’re not slavers. Additionally, when Kippa’s gift activates a second time, she sees ethereal butterflies in Yafaela. Kippa claims the butterflies would stop Yafaela from hurting her. This gives us an additional clue as to what Kippa’s gift is.

MONSTRESS #19
Image Courtesy of Image Comics

Liu also fleshes out Maika and Corvin’s relationship. While Corvin worries about Maika’s well-being, Maika proves to hold her own. It’s only later that we see chinks in both of their armors. With Maika, she experiences a nightmare in which Tuya bleeds out — a sign of Maika’s growing romantic feelings for her. Conversely, with Corvin, we see that his tough facade shows a crack when he bleeds through his mask after the ambush. This moment reveals that Corvin was in Constantine with the Dusk Court. Furthermore, this puts Maika into an awkward situation as Corvin calls out her bluff. While we don’t know the implications yet, Maika’s uncomfortable look suggests she can’t hide secrets from Corvin.

Takeda’s Art Continues to Stun

Sana Takeda’s art is a marvel to look and with MONSTRESS #19, the quality continues to hold up. If it’s one thing Takeda does quite well, it’s dramatic splash pages. In this issue, there are numerous splash pages that stand out. If you’ve ever wondered why Corvin wears a half mask, let’s just say that Carl Grimes from THE WALKING DEAD would be proud. Suffice to say, Takeda makes it look grotesque but also beautiful. All in all, it’s quite a treat that readers have to see to believe. Also, kudos to Takeda for using more silent panels in this issue.

Strikingly, Takeda’s coloring work in this issue has a smoky grey color that is constantly present. Given how bleak things look, the grey gives the comic an ominous feel. Particularly, it works well when Maika and Corvin travel through a hazy marsh area. In this sequence, Takeda shows a few corpses with faint red blood. Eventually, the panels give way to an arcanic who holds a human head and brandishes a bloody sword. At times, MONSTRESS #19 feels like a horror comic with its depiction of violence — and it’s a great thing.

MONSTRESS #19
Image Courtesy of Image Comics

However, there’s one minor nitpick with this issue. The series makes use of the “AIII” sound effect which comes off as unintentionally funny in an otherwise gruesome panel. Most readers probably won’t notice it but it’s still worth pointing out.

More Questions linger in MONSTRESS #19

So many questions remain as the series moves forward. Does Ren recover from his injuries? What becomes of the Brothers Imura after Maika seals the Monstra? Who is the ancient who gives Kippa her gift? What becomes of Tuya in the state of the world? Liu and Takeda offer a few hints but Kippa comes into her own in this issue. Ultimately, MONSTRESS #19 moves the plot forward while it drip-feeds some more answers.

2 Comments

  1. Shaun Narine

    January 26, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Hi! Just a point: it’s been long-established that Maika is in love with Tuya; that makes the fact of Tuya’s betrayal of Maika that much more poignant and painful, especially since we, the readers, have known of this since the end of the first story arc, but Maika has no idea that the woman she loves so much is working for those who may be her enemies.

    Reply

    • Jhoan Suriel

      January 27, 2019 at 12:51 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out and for reading! It’s also not so subtle that Tuya means yours in Spanish. Do you have a prediction as to what issue we’ll finally see the two meet and how they’ll react?

      Reply

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