Friday, September 7, 2018

FANTASY FRIDAY: Monstress by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda

In honor of volume three coming out next week (eep! I'm excited!), today's Fantasy Friday is about Monstress, a comic-book series written by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda. Here's the official synopsis:
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. 
Sounds awesome, right? Because it is! Maika is one of those protagonists I can't help but love--a little bit damaged, a lot of secrets and mysteries in her past, and a hell of an attitude. She accidentally picks up two sidekicks--Kippa, a fox arcanic girl, and Master Ren, a smart-ass cat nekomancer with two tails. I tend to love misfit characters who find unexpected companionship anyway, but their dynamics as a group are delightful. Not to mention there are a ton of female characters, good and bad and everywhere in between. In fantasy, that's especially refreshing, and it's a big reason I always love revisiting this world.

Beyond the story, one of the major draws of this series is Takeda's art. It's insanely detailed and gorgeous. I can't say that enough. I lack the proper vocabulary to talk about visual art in more depth, but I think my Goodreads review of volume two sums it up well: "I want to drown in the art. Or paper my bedroom with it."

However, the series is apparently an acquired taste. Everyone I try to recommend it to comes back to me with the complaint that it's confusing. And it is. I've read the first volume multiple times, and I still have to stop and ask myself, "Wait. Who are these people? What is that again?" You've got humans and arcanics (half-human and half-ancient, a powerful race blessed by the lunar goddess) and all the different factions and viewpoints they represent. Sometimes it's difficult to keep everything straight, especially since Liu drops you into a new world without much of a guidebook.

This has been my favorite comic series for a while now, and I'm very excited to read the third volume. I have the issues and have read the first two or three in the volume, but I prefer reading it in one big chunk. If you're looking to jump into it, volume one is only $6.15 on kindle right now. It's a steal!

What other fantasy comics would you recommend?

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