A Beautifully Brutal Tale – Monstress
Writer: Marjorie M. Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
So let’s give you a little background info before we dive into all the finer things.
Monstress revolves around our main protagonist Maika Halfwolf who is struggling with the aftermath of war while also trying to solve the mystery as to what she holds inside her.
The story is set in a beautifully imagined alternate 1900’s Asia which is governed by various Races all trying to get their place in the world or in some cases, rule all as they see fit. The world is amidst a war and the times are filled with cruelty, slavery, and racism between the races and their factions.
We have the humans who seemingly govern themselves, but are actually overseen by the Cumaea, a powerful organization of witch-nuns. On the other side of the wall, we see the Ancients and the Ancient halfbreeds known as the Arcanics.
The one thing that is slightly frustrating with the expansive world and history that Lui builds, is that she does very little in the beginning to hold the reader’s hand. However just as your niggling questions of who, what and where becomes unbearable, she offers answers through various historical lectures given by the delightful Professor Tam Tam.
As with every comic or TP, you will read, with a great story there is usually great art and Monstress is no different.
The amazing artwork of Sana Takeda not only brings life to Liu’s story but enhances it into a perfect world for you to completely invest yourself in. Takeda’s world is teeming with Art-deco steampunk flair and does nothing but add just the right feel for the story, highlighting the vast difference between the races and factions and the worlds they each live in.
Volume One: Awakening starts us off straight in the middle of the more gritty and cruel side of the story with Maika, our protagonist, in chains in the midst of being auctioned off as a slave.
Here we get to see just how much the classes differ and how the races view one another, and we are also introduced to the Cumaea and the power that they command in the world. The story then takes a quicker pace and we learn why and what Maika is doing here in the first place, right before rushing into complete bloodbath delivered by her hand.
As the story progresses we then learn Maika is not only looking for revenge but also answers as to what the darkness that lives inside of her is.
The darkness within her is then revealed in a very tragic way and we discover that she is possibly the most pivotal component to turning the tide in this stalemate war that the races are locked in.
From then on Maika is on the run from the Cumaea, and we are introduced to the Dusk Court, a faction of Arcanics trying to prevent the destruction of their world and the shift of power into the wrong hands.
In the end, we discover the truth about the darkness residing within Maika… and that she is not the only one with this.
Now don’t get me wrong, Monstress for all the praise that I have given it, is not perfect in any way but it is very close to it.
If you’re looking for something that’s a little more complex, with a boatload of depth and don’t mind feeling your way through a story until it kindly reveals some of the missing bits, then Monstress is definitely for you.
If you have read Monstress then leave a comment or your own review down below, we would love to hear what your take is on it.
A beautifully told story brought to life with exquisite artwork, only brought down slightly by the learning curve in the beginning. A must have though for any collection!