Since yesterday was International Women’s Day, it seemed apropos to read the latest issue of Monstress this morning. I’ve been reading this comic since its inception, and it is one of my all-time favorite graphic stories. Written and illustrated by two women—Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, respectively—the comic recently won an impressive five Eisner Awards, including Best Writer for Liu, the first time this award has gone to a woman.
I cannot sing the praises of this comic enough. The artwork is visually stunning, and the writing evocative and thought-provoking. If you are even slightly interested in the graphic novel genre, I highly recommend reading these books.
The cover artwork for this installment, and a couple quotes from the issue, should suffice to support my claims regarding the magnificence of this work.
“When two people are one in their innermost hearts, they shatter even the strength of iron. When two people ally with each other in their innermost hearts, their vows are stronger than poems.”
“Short-lived beings… and their inventions. I will never understand that desire… to defy and overcome… the limits of flesh. Such a primitive need for power.”
Ah, the Old Gods.
We’ve discussed them before – their immense power, their destructive natures – how they are the very opposite of divine. Invaders, some Poets claim. Demonic entities from another world, whose unending hunger was an abomination.
Humans were the logical fools to fall prey to the Old Gods – having never battled them, as the Ancients had – and afflicted by a poverty of spirit unmatched by even the most crude animal. How easily fooled they were by such otherworldly magnificence, whispering empty prayers, making blood sacrifices to demons that would consume them in a heartbeat if they were able.
I’ve been behind on my reading and writing, mainly because I was on vacation and drove across the United States. So this particular installment of the Monstress series has been on my desk for a while, and I finally got around to it the other day. As with all previous installments, this issue brims with stunning artwork and exquisite writing; but it was the postscript section, which I shared just a short excerpt of here, that floored me.
In our current age, there is a romantic vision of the “old gods.” Neo-pagans rejecting the monotheistic faiths scour the past for remnants of gods and religions that have long passed. These old gods are resurrected, often outside the context of when and where they existed. As such, we do not really know much about the old gods. Only the few myths and stories that survived the ages. And that is what this passage symbolizes for me—the recognition that deities long dead may not be the glorious beings we imagine them to be. It is something to consider.
I’d like to close with a quote from the short-lived TV show “Witchblade”:
“Gods come and go… It’s the myth that’s eternal.”
And that is all we truly have of the old gods, their enduring myths.
Yet another stunningly beautiful and eloquently composed installment in this series. I know I have written before about the quality of the writing and artwork that graces these pages, so for this post, I just want to share a couple passages that I found particularly inspiring.
“The ancients, using their magic — and their sway over humans — constructed cities of such magnificence that they have never been equaled. Magic allowed them to control the elements, to defy death, and to peer into the labyrinths of time. Infinitely brilliant — and just as decadent. But the ancients, for all the blessings bestowed upon them, were as deeply flawed as the humans they enslaved — and the same ambitions that elevated them to Olympian heights ended up tearing them apart.”
“What happened once, will happen again… but in a different form. To become a fortune-teller, one needs only to study history.”
So far, I’ve been very impressed with this arc. The writing and artwork are both excellent and the storyline is engaging. In this installment, I was particularly intrigued by a passage near the end that sounded like it could have come from an H.P. Lovecraft tale.
… And then, there are the old gods. We know next to nothing about these mythic beings except that they are creatures of immense and destructive power, who the poets believe once threatened nearly all existence. Now only their shadows haunt the world. Many Arcanics worship them, or attempt to placate them with offerings, but there is nothing divine about the old ones. They are horrors. It is said that the most terrible of the old gods was not banished with its kin — that it yet slumbers in our world. When it wakes, may Ubasti save us all.
Reading this again, it also feels as if the creative team was drawing on Greek mythology as well as tapping into Lovecraft. I see similarities between the old gods and the Titans. I suspect the idea of elder gods is something found in many myths.
Anyway, I just wanted to share an interesting quote. Hope you all found it as thought-provoking as I did. Cheers!