So far, this wide-ranging series has pulled from a myriad of storytelling styles and influences. What began as something that was wholly from the realm of anime has morphed into stylings of noir, horror, mystery, and myriad others. This issue adds a touch of the deep-dwellers of Lovecraftian fame ,and with it builds the hodgepodge of myth and story into a collective whole that can really suit anyone. With traditions of many continents in their heady arsenal, Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda are building a tale that not only tries to encompass every storytelling tradition, but be engaging and awesome to boot.
We've seen Maika asking her mother for guidance before, but never with the edge we see in this issue. Their relationship takes on a much darker tone here, with shades of a much larger conspiracy afoot. It's a bit reminiscent of Akira (at least the parts that made sense to me; I still can't get into that film wholly.) with wide-ranging implications dropped here and there that will reward the dedicated reader, as a character makes her return from the first issue. In fact, this one has made me want to run back through the series, picking up clues that were buried until this one brought them to light. Liu has a very good ability to lay things out slowly, letting pieces fall into place in a very satisfying way. To do that on top of using the various styles is the hallmark of a master storyteller, and the final pages have me very excited for what's next.
I'm always astounded by the ability of Sana Takeda to churn out such intricate, beautiful, and incredibly well-composed pages. Her support of the story goes so far beyond many creative teams working today. It's a harmony that is nothing short of amazing. Everything is so detailed; the characters have a fire that brings them to life. The details which ought to be beautiful are stunning - those meant to be horrific are soul-rending - and what lies between the two is a world unlike any other. The trend in entertainment over the last decade is to drop fantastic creatures and characters into otherwise mundane worlds, but Takeda bucks that trend completely. This is no mortal realm; this world is fantasy to the highest degree. This is a world of fey beings, one which visiting makes our reality seem a thin shell, a veneer of crude and base comforts that try to mend the drudgery of the world. Short version: It's real good.
If you want to get into comics, do yourself a favor and learn from this series. If you can nail something a tenth as good, you'll have brought something great to the world. I love that these women have brought an incredible story to us, with an imagination and cunning that is awesome to behold. This is storytelling of a very high caliber, something that fans of any media can recognize and enjoy. This is also a world that would not translate as wonderfully in any other form; it's the perfect marriage of intuition and capability and is not to be missed.
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