Monstress: Awakening (Vol. 1)
By: Marjorie M. Liu (Writer), Sana Takeda (Artist), Rus Wooton (Letterer, Designer)
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, 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 and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.
I’ve been hearing about this comic for some time now but for whatever reason didn’t pick it up right away–actually, that’s not true, I tend to be very selective of what comics I pick up outside of Marvel so there was a delay there. But I heard so many good things about this series that when this first volume went on sale last year, I decided to pick it up.
I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to reading this comic as it was excellent. The world in which this story takes place in is strange, different, nouveau-1900s, and eerie. You really get a sense that not everything is what it seems, that there is a darkness and a horror lurking underneath the skin, underneath the masks that some of the characters wear. I think that’s the part that interested me the most about the story: the mystery about what lurks in Maika’s chest, the power struggle that emerges from it, and what this could mean for all of the characters involved. The social and political systems are also very interesting, especially as it’s clear that both sides have players that have their own motivations for furthering their own goals.
The story itself is interesting with a lot of questions as Maika takes on a risky mission so to speak in order to find out what is going on with her, what is up with the monster that lurks in her mind. It’s at times scary and disturbing (the slavery aspect early in the story was definitely uncomfortable), not to mention there is quite a bit of blood and gore going on. The cast of characters are interesting, flawed, self-interested with their own motivations (and Kippa is so cute, I just want to protect her from all the nastiness that happens around her). Yeah, the story can be a bit dense in that you’re learning about the world in which this story takes place in, how the magic and lore fits in; I’m amused at the interludes by Professor Tam Tam in which he explains a bit about how things work in this story, accompanied by cute little illustrations of the kittens doing whatever, lol.
I’m glad I finally got around to reading Monstress and I’m curious to see where the story goes. I highly recommend checking this series out if you haven’t already!