Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
The hot streak of jaw-dropping Monstress issues comes to a close with #38, but only just. Our protagonist Maika is all but absent as the narrative shifts to one of the most important yet least discussed characters thus far: Tuya.
The issue opens with Kippa, Corvin, Tuya, and the others arriving at the Dusk Court. A host of bizarre, fantastic Ancients begin their work on the half-wolf, including a disturbing scene in which Krom, a giant, serpentine “doctor”, examines an unconscious Maika via…tonguing. Shudders.
Meanwhile, Tuya is forced by a servitor to rest for the first time in weeks, or months even. In the same way that Maika’s recent stupor has provided an opportunity for her to face inner demons, Tuya’s dreams are visceral in their intrusion. Indeed, there is much more inside Tuya’s mind than readers could have anticipated.
At this point in the Monstress saga, Tuya occupies an intriguing place in the narrative. For dozens of issues she represented the only element of hope or warmth in Maika’s life. But upon finally meeting, Tuya essentially ripped Maika’s heart out. How will Liu will handle a redemptive arc for her, if that is indeed the plan, I wonder?
After taking in the story, Monstress #38, as always, begs readers to leaf through its pages once more. Does Sana Takeda get tired of hearing about what an absolute talent she is? Whether it’s the grandeur of an airship setting down into the expansive, magnificent Dusk Court, or an intimate moment with Tuya in her bath, surrounded by ferns and moonlight, Takeda delivers. Design, texture, emotion. It’s all packed into every panel.
To call Monstress #38 filler would be a great disservice. The issue covers a lot of ground, but a fair amount is set up. However, with so many main players gathered in the Dusk Court and both Maika and Tuya undergoing major transformations, the relative calm can only last so long.
Monstress #38 has a major revelation or two, but is a bit of a breather compared to the last several issues. With everyone packed together in the Dusk Court, let's hope readers took a deep breath!