COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Monstress #17 (Battle of Pontus)

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Monstress #17
Writer: Marjorie M. Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Publisher: Image Comics

What You Need to Know:

If you haven’t been reading the Monstress comics, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Namely, what an amazing product the dual efforts of Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda have produced: a vibrant, rich world all it’s own with major stakes at play.

Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda address the overwhelming elephant in the comic industry room by giving readers strong, flawed female characters in this alternate-Asia matriarchal world full of steampunk wonders, magical prophecy, political upheaval and the after-effects of war.

Set in an alternate world that pulls inspiration from Asian, Egyptian and Victorian-era themes, this comic fiercely stands on its own merit with an attractive yet repulsive quality: Beautiful art and writing that tells the horrific story of survival in a world ravaged by powerful forces vying for control.

In this world, there is the Federation of Humans with their Cumean order of witches that have magical abilities brought on by Ilium, a powerful substance harnessed via the appalling means of consuming Arcanic body parts. The Arcanic Empire, led by the opposing factions, The Court of Dawn and the Court of Dusk, are the semi-magical half-breeds of humans and Ancients. Ancients are powerful magical creatures with beastly form, so many Arcanics take on characteristics of their Ancient heritage. There is also the species of cats that are sentient and follow the goddess Ubasti, who may have been involved in the banishment of the Monstrum (or Old Gods) from the world.

Lastly, there are the Old Gods, or as they are referred to in the comic: Monstrum. All-powerful and hardly controllable, they were banished to an alternate reality but have managed to somewhat return via the blood bond of descendants of specific Arcanics and hope to eventually free themselves. The world, set after a Great War between humans and Arcanics, are fighting to find and control these Monstrum – which could have disastrous consequences not just for those opposed to whomever controls them, but the world at large. Most grappling to control Monstrums forget they were banished for a reason.

The comic follows the main protagonist, Maika Half-wolf, who is searching for the secrets about her past, her mother, and the Monstrum that lives within her, as she is the descendant of the Shaman-Empress, a legendary Arcanic that held a bond with the Monstrum inside her named Zinn.

What You’ll Find Out:

The Pontus shield is malfunctioning and it is crucial to the refugees surviving the Thyrian attack coming to the city that Maika and Zinn repair and operate the shield. Sadly, their adventures into the Southern Laboratory of the Shaman-Empress prove unfruitful as they do not bring back the necessary parts to activate the shield in time.

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What Just Happened?

Maika succeeds in killing the Arcanic controlled by the Monstrum, but it appears to be done too late. Just as Maika and Zinn succeed in killing her, she manages to unlock the Gaol with portions of the mysterious mask relic, releasing a Monstrum over the city of Pontus.

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What does this mean for Zinn and Maika? We’ll have to wait until next issue to find out.

Rating: 9/10

Final Thought: Lots of action in this issue and once more, the art is a pleasure in itself.

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