Monstress Vol.1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
[ Goodreads ] 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.
Rating: 4 stars
I bought this comic book on a whim at a bookstore I go to often. I like manga but I usually don’t like comics and I rarely buy them but there was something about this one that caught my attention.
The world in which this is set is incredible. There are about five races (definitions mostly obtained from the Monstress wiki or book):
- The Ancients are a powerful race of beast-like humanoid creatures blessed with magic, wisdom, and immortality by ‘the’ goddess, Ubasti.
- The Arcanics are the half-breed children of humans and ancients who often possess powers and beast-like features such as ears or tails but are otherwise human-looking.
- The Cats are children of the goddess, Ubasti who banished the Old Gods.
- The Humans are believed to have been cursed by the gods. With the exception of a few women, humans possess no magic. The Cumera (a.k.a. the antagonists) are a ruthless religious organization that recruits these women with powers. (They are basically an all-female, magical inquisition).
- The Old Gods are old and extremely powerful beings who were banished by Ubasti and now appear only as giant, mindless and harmless apparitions.
The main character, Maika, spent most of her life suffering physically and mentally and so she’s become this ruthless yet determined person that might still have a shred of kindness inside her. Maika’s on a journey that I’m certain will involve a lot a lot of death but she still has redeeming qualities. I’d say she’s an antihero, similar to Adelina Amouteru from The Young Elites trilogy.
This book is bloody and gruesome, with current issues integrated into a diverse high-fantasy story. It’s also wonderfully honest and magical. It’s got super interesting concepts and I’m super excited to read the next volume. I strongly recommend it!