Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Monstress Volume 1: Awakening Part 3 of 6 by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda


Rating: WORTHY!

This was an advance review copy for which I thank the publishers and creators, and I have to say the quality is maintained with great writing and lush art work (lush in the sense of rich and detailed not in the sense of being created by an artist with a fondness for alcohol! LOL!). One thing I was pleased with was how quickly the pages turned. Sometimes with a publication that is heavy with images, the page turns can be excruciatingly slow, but that is not the case with this series. The only issue I had was that some pages were missing the speech from the speech balloons! I've seen this before in other graphic novels, and I also encountered it in part one of this series. In this particular part, it was pages 14, 16 (where all speech balloons were blank except for one which appropriately read >GASP<! LOL!) and 18.

In this part we again meet Yvette and Destria who are fond of wearing bird-beak-like masks over their faces. Yvette was the one who was brought back to life in part two. Apparently she was forgiven, but not to the point of regaining any sort of normality in appearance. The mask evidently hides her disfigurement, but regardless of their physical appearance, these women are not pleasant people.

One thing I have to ask about is why we get the title of Monstress? Why not Monster? It seems to me that the two words do not convey the same thing, irrespective of whatever gender content they might profess. Monster indicates that the bearer of the title is a monster, whereas Monstress, which invokes 'monstrous' could be construed as the way this character, Maika, actually is - a person who has some sort of control over, or link with a monster or monsters? But I have a better question: if we're going to have Monstress, then why not have Inquisitress? But we don't get Inquisitress, nor do we get inquisitor. We get Inquisitrix, which is no more of a real word than is 'Monstress' or 'Monstrix'.

Of course, it's entirely up the the writer what word she chooses, but to me words are important and convey meaning, and this is especially true in a work of fiction where new concepts and ideas are being promoted, so I can't help but be curious about what's being promoted here. On the one hand we have a powerful story, populated with powerful females who dominate the tale (males are highly conspicuous by their absence), yet on the other, we have word forms which are gender specific and which in other contexts are not typically used with respect towards women. Anything ending in 'trix' is unlikely to be complimentary since the one most commonly used is dominatrix, something which these days has strong sexual and perversion connotations. The only other comparable word is aviatrix, which has fallen into disuse.

Words ending in 'ess' are even worse, the most common one being 'mistress' signifying at best, a possession, and at worst, a women of questionable morals. Words ending in -ess and applied to women typically are used to segregate. Is that what we're seeing here in this matriarchical world? It's questions like this which are part of what interests me. I am curious, inter alia, as to whether these words were chosen deliberately to serve a purpose, or thoughtlessly offering nothing more than cheap novelty? I hope it's not that simple! I shall be very disappointed if it is.


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