Writer: Marjorie Liu , Illustrator: Sana Takeda
Published: March 2016
Length: 72 pages
Source: Received for review from the publisher through Netgalley
First of all, there’s something to be said about the contribution of art style and choice of colour tones to a comic! I’m not an expert in art and I won’t pretend to be but as a reader I am able to identify when the art adds something to the story! I think that Monstress really demonstrates just how much these artistical aspects bring to the story. Here’s the 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.’
(I know that this synopsis doesn’t give much away but I actually prefer it like that! I think you should just go ahead and read this comic!)
This review is JUST for the first issue, but I’m going to hold off reviewing the other issues and just review volume 1 as a whole. The basic premise of the story (from what I’ve gathered) is that there was a war between humans and other creatures. Some of these ‘creature’s include realllllyyy cutteeee little hybrids of humans and foxes or other animals. Honestly they were so cute! Post-war the humans have the upper hand and are basically the ruling species. That’s as far as I’m willing to risk in terms of explanations, the rest you’ll have to find out for yourselves!
World building: Whenever a writer includes flashbacks in their story I immediately appreciate them! This is a high fantasy story, and you can tell from the first issue that you’re going to have to read on to discover and understand this fictional world on a deeper level. Having said that, there were flashbacks in this comic that kind of filled the reader in, or provided them with enough information to be able to follow the story! Again the art style and tone of colours played a huge role in the portrayal of this world! HOWEVER, I did feel like this issue was a little all over the place, it is way longer than first issues tend to be. But I felt like the structure was a bit off, we were hopping from place to place and it got a bit jarring.
Characters: Surprisingly the focus on the main character came at the end of this issue. We have the typical protagonist who possesses a power she doesn’t fully understand or know how to use. Accompanied with this usually we have a story of self discovery so I’ll be looking forward to learning more about our main character! One thing I appreciated is the diversity of the characters, this is a purely fictional world and it’s always refreshing to see that writers choose to use a cast that is more representative.
Connecting with the main character is essential to successfully engaging the reader, in my opinion. I feel like I can do this better when my first pages reading about the character don’t include them in intense scenes . That is the case in this comic and I think because of that I haven’t been able to really immerse myself into the story, I feel like I haven’t gotten to know the character well know to know what she experiences in certain situations.
All in all it was , very intriguing and engaging and unique in in its premise. We see from the first issue that this story and it’s characters has a lot of depth to it, and one I’m definitely going to carry on reading! I would recommend this to probably anyone, but in particular if you have an interest in fantasy, you’ll love this !