Monstress: Talk Stories #1-2
Bridging the gap between the fifth and sixth arcs of Monstress, Talk Stories invites you to eat dumplings beside the fire and listen as Kippa and Maika open up to each other. In the first issue, Kippa recounts a defining moment from her childhood, while, in the second one, Maika recounts an important day from her childhood in Thyria.
In the middle of some of the bloodiest moments of Monstress, with the issues just before this miniseries leading to a place of restiveness for what the ongoing war will make of our characters, and even who will survive and at what costs, Monstress: Talk Stories gets nostalgic, snug and familiar. It reminds you of the humanity and complexity of its characters. And don’t get me wrong, neither of the two stories told (one in each issue) is without its complications and pain, but the way they revolve around found kindness is what makes this the perfect interlude for the war that the main story is getting further and further into.
Except for the placing and context put at the beginning of the first issue, both of them work structurally and visually like a perfect mirror of each other. They both begin with a question and conversation between Kippa and Maika that sprouts into memory. That memory starts at a conflicting place or feeling, a necessity for growing out of a toxic situation or escaping it, and then the characters arrive at a more familiar, cozy, restful place. It’s that momentary happiness of childhood that breaks both of them into tears at the end of each issue, as the flashback fades away.
As part of that mirroring structure, the first issue centers around food, and Kippa’s relationship to food and cooking, and the second issue centers around the sea, and Maika’s longing for it. Takeda takes that symbology and runs it through each page. The brown and orange colours, roots, farm animals and grounded dusty coloring moves with the emotional story on the maternal rejection of Kippa’s bastard sister, paralleled with the hunger of their camps, and towards the resolution that brings the warm feelings. Likely, the blue and green colors, pulps, sunsets, mermaid-like characters and more watercolor-like style of Maika’s retelling brings out her necessity for freedom and her bounding faith that she keeps resisting.
Both characters find a family in these symbols, and they both find it in a somewhat unconventional (and fragile) way, but it fits perfectly. And that’s precisely cause of the way Liu and Takeda intertwine story significant but truthful dialogues with the symbology that leads you through the miniseries, connecting every piece together to give you conflict, trauma, but also joy, hope and, most of all, an arrow to the heart of the complexity of Kippa and Maika.
It is not a secret that Monstress is a series that knows its characters and has a deep emotional depth and breathtaking art. But this miniseries is capable of taking that in the context of small tales to get them to their full potential, with a testament to sharing hopeful moments, stories and memories with each other in troubling times.
Monstress: Talk Stories: Bittersweet Memories To Survive
Writing - 10/10
Storyline - 9.5/10
Art - 10/10
Color - 10/10
Cover Art - 9.5/10
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