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Thread: Monstress

  1. #1
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    Hi! I went back 7 or 8 pages and saw hardly any threads dealing with Monstress. I guess that may mean that there is not much interest on this board on discussing the series, but I decided to try to get something started anyway.

    To my mind, Monstress is one of the finest comics being published anywhere, right now. The art is beautiful, the characters are compelling, the story and the universe that Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda have constructed is amazing.

    I'll get the ball rolling by raising a few questions/points about one of my favorite characters, Kippa.


    I have mixed feelings about the idea that Kippa may be playing a more fundamental supernatural role in the series, i.e, that she may possess more "gifts" than we realize. She has been blessed with some kind of supernatural sight by an unknown Ancient Arcanic and she is also a black hole for the different seers who are trying to predict and interpret how Maika will act. On the one hand, I find the mystery surrounding Kippa intriguing. On the other, I like her as simply an ordinary but amazingly caring and virtuous little girl whom Maika comes to love and care for just because of who she is. That part, I suppose, will not change, but I'm not sure how I feel about Kippa becoming more than that.

    Also, what do you think it means that Yafaela's ghost has started appearing to Kippa? And is the ghost hostile? I was re-reading volume 4 the other day and realized, at the end of #24, there is a panel of Yafaela lying dead at the feet of Gull, the Inquisitrix/"possessed" woman that Maika set free. So, Yafaela really is dead (I was kind of hoping she survived and that whatever was appearing to Kippa was something different). It's ironic but fitting for the comic that Maika's act of mercy ends up resulting in a totally unconnected character (to her) getting murdered. It underlines the way in which different lives intersect.

    The most recent issue, #29, was another kick in the gut. The double page spread of the different citizens of Ravenna getting ready to fight and then their different fates was really jarring.

    Anyway, hopefully there is some appetite on the board to talk about this great series.

  2. #2

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    Monstress is definitely popular here, we used to do weekly poll threads and Monstress would consistently be the most read series on the board. Along with Walking Dead, and any of the big Brubaker/Phillips series (Kill Or Be Killed, The Fade Out), but it'd routinely get more votes/talk than Saga for example.
    In retrospect, maybe those weekly threads kinda siphoned discussion away from a central topic, so now it's harder to find.

    Personally I can't contribute a whole lot, I never read past the first collection. Loved the art style with its Final Fantasy architecture, but at the time I found the story bleaker than I wanted. Should give it another go one day.

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    Hi! Thanks for the response and clarification. That gives me some hope that we may get a good conversation going.

    It's strange - until you used the word, I never really thought ot Monstress as "bleak" but it is definitely an adjective that fits, particularly in the current story arc, the siege of Ravenna. But, yes, there is a deep element of darkness and despair that runs through the series, especially in respect to Maika herself and her heart-rending efforts to come to term with what she has become. This is offset by the mystery of what is happening, the gradual reveal of more and more details about the history of Zinn, the monster, and his relationship with the Shaman Empress, and its relationship with Maika.As I wrote, it looks like a lot more is going on with Kippa.

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    Well, it doesn't look like anyone else is biting here. Oh well. Before I give up, I'll throw out some ideas from the series that I find particularly intriguing and, perhaps, worthy of further discussion/speculation.

    -There has been the suggestion that Zinn, the "monster", may be the father of some of the Shaman Empress' children, meaning that Maika may be one of his distant descendants. Does this seem plausible?
    -It's been clear that, at some point, Zinn betrayed the Shaman Empress, allied himself with a woman named Marium (who is a figure evoked by the Cumea, I believe) and killed the SE. I don't think we have enough information yet to reasonably speculate on why he did this, though it is something that so shamed and hurt him that he has blocked it from his own memories. Any ideas?
    -In one of Tam Tam's lectures, he talks about an Ancient who was some kind of entertainer or historian who spread the romantic story of an old god who came down and fell in love with a woman. Tam Tam says that this fantasy was very harmful and that the Ancient who told the story underestimated her own charisma in selling it to others. Obviously, it's a variation on the story of the SE and Zinn and it has some real basis in truth. Who was the Ancient? I kind of wonder if it was Vinh. She is, clearly, a famous Ancient -Ren recognized her immediately when she let her glamour drop.
    -Who is Vinh? I admit that she is one of my favorite minor characters. Her confidence and the beautiful way that Sana draws her are very appealing. Kippa saw her as some kind of Celestial being. Is she older than the Ancient Arcanics, one of their precursors, who came from the stars? And what does she want with Maika? She says she wants something but also that she has no desire to harm Maika.
    -The Doctor has another daughter, Maika's half-sister. She is also one of his top operatives and her code name is "the Beast." Any speculation on her?
    -What's going on with Kippa? Who is the Ancient who blessed her and why? Is it someone we have already met or a completely different character we have not yet encountered? I assume the latter but the former is possible too.

    I realize in writing all of this that the series probably has not yet given us enough information about any of these things to really fuel informed and plausible speculation - but I may have missed something (I have not gone over all of Tam Tam's lectures with a fine tooth comb, for example, and they definitely have clues as to what is coming) and a lack of information has never prevented people from speculating before!

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    All-New Member Chuffed's Avatar
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    I've been surprised and delighted as I loosely follow the floppies as they drop. I'm bad with lore and character development discussion but highfives all around to all the Monstress fans 8).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuffed View Post
    I've been surprised and delighted as I loosely follow the floppies as they drop. I'm bad with lore and character development discussion but highfives all around to all the Monstress fans 8).
    Thanks for the response, at least!

    I need to amend something I wrote earlier - Zinn was, apparently, having an affair with Marium. His relationship with the Shaman Empress is a bit unclear. He seems to believe he loved and admired her. Her comments to him in their shared memories seems to confirm this. But Marium suggests that the SE treated him like a tool and that she (Marium) was his only friend (and, apparently, his lover).

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    I describe it to my friends as "Berserk if the protagonist was a woman". High fantasy setting, traumatic backstory, one armed, cute and small travelling companion, possessed by or has inner demons that enhance abilities etc. Anyway I only read the first two volumes yet so I ave some catching up to do. I might need to reread the whole thing because I dont' recognize some of the names anymore.

    One of the coolest comics out there for sure. Love the art and the story.

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    The second TPB was the Blood Fox arc, where Maika and company journey to the Island of Bones and find out a bit more about Zinn's past and Maika's own origins. The next arc has them going to Pontus and meeting Vinh. And yes, the number of characters and the complexity of the plot just keeps building. But I've found it relatively easy to follow all of the twists and turns, as complicated as they have become.

    I don't know much about Berserk. In her world, I think that Maika occupies a unique position. There is the suggestion that she is the incarnation or maybe the reincarnation of the Shaman Empress, but I suspect whatever is going on is more subtle than that. Still, she has met the SE in her dreams a number of times and their contact seems to transcend time. So, it could be that Maika is part of a larger scheme on the part of the SE to return, In fact, I think this is fairly strongly suggested.

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    So, another try at this.

    The most recent issue of Monstress doesn't actually conclude the current arc - in fact, it ends indicating that the Siege of Ravenna is just beginning. This is actually really ominous to me, for a number of reasons. The most important is that, in an earlier issue, the Shaman Empress encounters Maika in her mind. The SE realizes that the Maika she was meeting then is younger than a later version of Maika whom the SE had met earlier. The SE says to her that she was glad to see that she, Maika, survived the Siege but, at the time of the earlier (for the SE) meeting, she was almost out of her mind with grief. I think there are only two things that could make Maika lose her mind with grief. One is coming to understand who Tuya really is -and I really hope this is it. Because the second thing is that Kippa dies, and that would be absolutely heart-destroying. In this latest issue, Maika finally admits (in a fashion) that she loves Kippa, so Marjorie Liu has set up both possibiliities for the upcoming story. Please don't let it be Kippa! It is clear that the reveal about Tuya is not far off, however, so maybe I'm worrying needlessly.

    A few other factoids that the story reveals: it's all but confirmed that Zinn is the father of one of the Shaman Empress' children and that he kills the SE. Marium is involved in this in some way.

    The second interesting reveal is that we get a glimpse of "The Beast", the woman who is Maika's apparent half-sister. At the least, they share the same father, the Doctor. But what is not clear is if Maika and the Beast really are half-sisters or could they, possibly, be full sisters? Because we see that the Beast has multiple tails and they look like wolf tails. It would be interesting/odd if the Doctor had a relationship with another woman with Wolf blood, like Maika's mother. So, maybe Maika's parents had two children together - possibly even twin girls -who were separated when her mother took Maika and fled.

    The Doctor and the Beast attack Tuya's air fleet, preventing it from destorying the Ilium factory. Thus, what looked like a brilliant victory for the Arcanics becomes a failed effort. Even worse, the fleet's guns have all been sabatoged. It looks like the Ancients want the Ilium factory to remain open and want the war to continue. Tuya evidently realizes this and the Doctor knows it, but why is not clear at all. So, the Ancients have their own game they are playing.

    And the Doctor appears to have a listening device installed as part of Maika's artificial arm - which should not be surprising.

    The final full-page scene, with Maika and Zinn sitting side by side with Kippa's head in their laps is strangely touching. They've created a new kind of family. Zinn is even stroking Kippa's head, perhaps remembering his own child.
    Last edited by ShaunN; 09-04-2020 at 03:08 PM.

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    I finally did my big catch-up after having saved the floppies since #18 came out. This remains a tough series to hop into midstream or read piecemeal - I had to re-read #16-18 just to remind myself of some of the characters/where things stood - and it always takes me some time to get back into it, but by the time I hit #30 was desperate for more. It's interesting that the siege is just starting by the end of the arc - quite a long sidetrack from the quest for the third mask fragment. Are there any quotes about just how deep into the story we are, or a rough total issue count? We're apparently going to start to get miniseries between the arcs now (starting with the Kippa one in November) so there are obviously at least a handful of arcs left to go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bkart1978 View Post
    I finally did my big catch-up after having saved the floppies since #18 came out. This remains a tough series to hop into midstream or read piecemeal - I had to re-read #16-18 just to remind myself of some of the characters/where things stood - and it always takes me some time to get back into it, but by the time I hit #30 was desperate for more. It's interesting that the siege is just starting by the end of the arc - quite a long sidetrack from the quest for the third mask fragment. Are there any quotes about just how deep into the story we are, or a rough total issue count? We're apparently going to start to get miniseries between the arcs now (starting with the Kippa one in November) so there are obviously at least a handful of arcs left to go.
    I"ve got no idea how many more arcs there are. Given how involved the series is and all of the different balls Marjorie Liu has in the air right now, I suspect that it is, at least, a 100 issue series. But, while it is clear that it is a story with a definite ending, I have never read anything to indicate if she has a set number in mind.

    The 100 issues is something I'm pulling out of thin air, but just to illustrate some of the plot threads (big and small) that the series has going right now (just off the top of my head):

    1) the mystery of what Zinn did to the Shaman Empress and why
    2) the role of Marium in what happened
    3) the effort of the "demons" in the Cumaea to bring back the old gods
    4) the possibility that there was some kind of rebellion between the old gods and another faction within their ranks
    5) the goals of the Doctor
    6) why the Ancient Arcanics want the Ilium factory to continue operating
    7) why did the Ancients start to lose their powers when the hybrid Arcanics began to appear?
    8) is Maika going to be the vessel for the return of the Shaman Empress?
    9) what is the mystery behind the murder of Maika's mother?
    10) who is the Ancient who gifted Kippa with mystical sight and why?
    11) who is Vinh and what does she want from Maika?

    It goes on and on. There is just so much happening in this story that it is easy to lose track. The denseness really appeals to me but, yes, it is a story that you need to keep up with and think about to get all the pieces. For example, it took me a while to notice that Yafaela had been murdered by Gull. In this most recent issue, it took me a moment to realize that the Doctor has a listening device in Maika's artificial limb. Plotwise, i have no doubt that clues to some of the answers to the questions I've noted above are present in earlier issues, I've just missed them.

    It is true that the series is hard to get into for a newcomer, but I think it is worth the investment of time and effort to catch up.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShaunN View Post
    There is just so much happening in this story that it is easy to lose track. The denseness really appeals to me but, yes, it is a story that you need to keep up with and think about to get all the pieces. For example, it took me a while to notice that Yafaela had been murdered by Gull. In this most recent issue, it took me a moment to realize that the Doctor has a listening device in Maika's artificial limb. Plotwise, i have no doubt that clues to some of the answers to the questions I've noted above are present in earlier issues, I've just missed them.

    It is true that the series is hard to get into for a newcomer, but I think it is worth the investment of time and effort to catch up.
    I'm one of those people who has lost track, more or less. I start reading each issue with confusion and finish with bewilderment. Is Maika's goal still to find the remaining pieces of the Shaman Empress's mask? I basically don't understand what anyone is trying to accomplish. I guess they are all trying to find the remains of the Shaman Empress?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cgh View Post
    I'm one of those people who has lost track, more or less. I start reading each issue with confusion and finish with bewilderment. Is Maika's goal still to find the remaining pieces of the Shaman Empress's mask? I basically don't understand what anyone is trying to accomplish. I guess they are all trying to find the remains of the Shaman Empress?
    No, not really. The main story right now is revolving around a growing war between the Arcanics and the humans/Cumaeans. Maika's original quest, you may recall, was to find out why her mother was murdered. She was also seeking to find out what her mother was trying to do on her archaeological digs and with Maika herself. Maika, I think, has now come to realize that her mother, in giving birth to Maika, was trying to create a person who could be a vessel to the Monster, Zinn.

    But the current story has moved on. Maika now knows that the Cumaean leadership has people at the top who are possessed by "demons" -i.e, the Old Gods -who are trying to free the other Old Gods whose plans are somehow furthered by putting the humans at war with the Arcanics.She has also met her father, who also wants a war because he is very well-positioned to pick up the pieces afterwards. Maika is now trying to stop that war from occurring, though she is also up to her eyeballs in fighting on the side of the Arcanics.

    What I am not clear on is why the Cumaean/demon-possessed witches actually want the war between the humans/Arcanics. It is probably because the Arcanic Elders are the ones who locked away the Old Ones in the first place. Maika's pursuit of the mask continues though, at this point, I think she sees it more as a way to ensure the Old Gods stay locked away.

    There are a lot of plot threads to keep track of and I may have misinterpreted or forgotten some of what has gone on, but I think this is a reaonably accurate summation of where the story is now.

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    Maika also wanted to know what her mother wanted. She found what she wanted that her mother loved her and now wanted her daughter to be her own person. thanks to being kidnapped her goals changed. I mean I feel one of the main reasons is because they still were war-torn. Maika lost her identity. So she wanted on her journey and due to the other information, she made a choice.

    Wait Zinn has a gender? I often thought of it as Genderless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmiMizuno View Post
    Maika also wanted to know what her mother wanted. She found what she wanted that her mother loved her and now wanted her daughter to be her own person. thanks to being kidnapped her goals changed. I mean I feel one of the main reasons is because they still were war-torn. Maika lost her identity. So she wanted on her journey and due to the other information, she made a choice.

    Wait Zinn has a gender? I often thought of it as Genderless.
    The Zinn question is interesting. Right now, it looks like Zinn fathered at least one child by the Shaman Empress. But is he "male" or "genderless"? It's hard to say in a world where there are none of the "gender roles" that we would recognize and the vast majority of the characters are female. To complicate it further, an interaction between the Warlord and Tuya, her new wife, indicated that women can get other women pregnant in this world - it's not clear if that works one way or if two women can get each other pregnant, which seemed to be what Tuya implied. So, Zinn may well be "genderless" and still capable of "fathering" children. Of course, he is also a completely different biological being, so exactly what he is contributing to the offspring is unclear.

    Yes, Maika is trying to find out more about her mother, who her mother was, and what her mother felt about her. Maika learned that her mother specifically sought out the Doctor, her father, with the goal of having a child. The Doctor was one of the Shaman Empress' direct descendants. This implied that her mother created Maika in the hopes of getting access to Zinn. However, I think you are right - it's clear that her mother did love her and that, whatever her original reasons for having Maika, she ultimately wanted her daughter to be her own person. She also understood that Maika would eventually reshape the world through her own will. It has also come out that Korvin's people (I think they are the Dusk Court) believe that Maika is the incarnation of the Shaman Empress and it is possible that she is, since she has met the SE a number of times in her mind.

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