Episode 55: Monstress

Andi and Lise are way into the first collected volume, “Awakening,” of the multiple award-winning comic series Monstress (Image Comics) by writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda, who combines elements of manga and Art-Deco in the portrayal of this grim world wracked by violence, racism, slavery, and war. The protagonist, Maika Halfwolf, is the descendant of a wolf-goddess, but there’s something else inside her that’s older and stronger and it may or may not be key to saving this world, in which most of the world’s human population despises Arcanics – the human/deity hybrids like Maika. The sadistic witch-scientists called the Cumaea may hate them the worst, and they capture Arcanics and run terrible, painful experiments on them.

The world-building in this epic fantasy series includes steampunk and magic and nods to Asian history and culture but also Egyptian mythology as it explores themes of survival and violence, the commodification of mixed-race bodies, and women’s rage and power, and how the latter can corrupt. The world of Monstress is almost entirely female and WOC, to which Andi and Lise say, MORE OF THIS, PLEASE.

Lise also highly recommends the second season of She-Ra, Princesses of Power, streaming on Netflix while Andi is sad about the end of the AMC series Into the Badlands, though she does think it didn’t do justice to its female and queer characters in the end.

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