Monstress, Volume 1 written by Marjorie Liu, artwork by Sana Takeda
Image Comics, 2016
Available: Kindle ebook, print
Monstress, Volume 1 collects issues 1-6 of a fantastic comic written by Marjorie Liu and drawn by Sana Takeda. The story is set in an alternate vision of 1900’s Asia, and includes elements of steampunk, kaiju, and horror fiction. The world includes humans, monsters, and magical creatures, existing in a constant state of struggle and war. The animal-hybrid Arcanics and the Cumea witch-nuns are at the center of this war. The Cumea capture, auction, or buy Arcanics for reprehensible experiments, slavery, or worse. The story opens with Maika Halfwolf, a teenage girl who is discovering her mysterious past, up for auction. A high ranking member of the Cumea takes her, and a few other Arcanics, back to her mistress’s palace. The sorceress doesn’t know it, but the taking of Maika will turn out to be a deadly mistake for her captors. Upon her escape, Maika rescues the tiny, skittish, fox girl, Kippa. They are joined by the ever-present badass of a cat, Master Ren.
I love horror comics, and Monstress has quickly become my favorite comic series for this genre. Liu has created a rich, dark world, and characters are fascinating. Maika, throughout the story, remains stalwart and aloof, despite her class status in this world. This manages to be a strength as much as a weakness. She’s cold and calculating, even when such a demeanor is not warranted, and puts her at odds with her “betters.” Since Kippa is a child, she exudes innocence and cuteness. Maika does her best to be patient with her, which is to say she isn’t. No matter how badly Maika treats her, Kippa doesn’t give up on her. Master Ren is a talking cat, who seems to appear when he is needed the most. He’s protective and mysterious, and knows more than he communicates.
Takeda’s artwork is, in a word, exquisite. There is so much detail in the panels, and every page is in full color. The book took me three times as it normally takes me to get through a comic because I just wanted to drink in the artwork. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
I can’t get enough of this series. Highly recommended.
Contains: blood, violence
Reviewed by Lizzy Walker