Series: Monstress (Collected Editions) #1
Written By: Marjorie Liu
Art by: Sana Takeda
Genres: Comics, Fantasy
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both. Collects MONSTRESS #1-6.
Visually stunning, Monstress is a dark fantasy with steampunk elements. From what I could tell, the world is separated by arcanics, humans, talking cats with multiple tails, and ancients. Ancients are god-like deities that were worshipped and arcanics are ancient/human hybrids. Our heroine Maika Halfwolf is an arcanic with a remarkably human appearance; arcanics usually look different to humans and have wings or fur or something like that. Humans and arcanics are in conflict and a faction of the human race called the Cumaea use arcanic body parts to make lilium, which is a magical substance that can grant the users power and extend life. Kind of like a witches coven. There is a big deal made about a mask, some kind of weird thing lurking inside Maika, and lots of disturbing violence.
Tragically, the above paragraph was almost all of the sense I could make of the plot. It felt like I started reading the story from the middle as I just did not have a clue what was going on half the time. The narrative constantly switched between so many different characters I was just left utterly baffled. The art is beautiful, but is let down by the convoluted story line that was extremely hard to follow. I don't know whether that is a problem with me and maybe this kind of story just isn't my thing. I feel like perhaps the story is supposed to be layered in order for everything to start clicking into place as it progresses. I just don't have that kind of patience unfortunately.
However, I absolutely loved the character of Kippa, who is an adorable little girl with fox ears and tail. There were also some genuine horrifying scenes which I liked and the chapters where the story started to slowly come together held promise. It just wasn't enough for me to want to carry on with this series personally.
I received a free copy from Netgalley. All opinions stated are my own.