Skip to main content

REVIEW: 'Monstress' #1 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda


★★★★★ (5/5)

'Monstress' #1 is a stunningly conceived dark fantasy that is beautifully illustrated by Sana Takeda and brilliantly written by Marjorie Liu. The oversized issue offers 72 pages of epic world-building and a character arc that feels like a one-shot as dense and moving as a collected trade. It's a somber but inspiring story set in a world scarred by war, prejudice, injustice, and monsters. 

First, there is a number of things that make 'Monstress' unique and empowering. The creative team consists of two women of Asian heritage, a rarity in a lot of mediums but comics in particular. Most of the characters are women, and as varied and complex as you've ever seen in an ongoing series. The most haunting is the protagonist, Maika.

The opening is an unflinching and raw introduction of a sullen, naked Maika about to be auctioned off as a sex slave. A brutal and archaic trade amid the opulence of the buyer's home that Takeda painstakingly realizes with ornate architecture and classical furnishings. Maika is saved one indignity by being taken by an order of nuns led by the vicious Sophia instead of the disgusting Sir Conroy. Maika's fate will be torture and dismemberment at the hands of Sophia and her experimental chambers of science and magic unless she finds a way to escape. 

In a world devasted by war, factions emerged like Maika's Arcanics and the powerful Cumaea of which Sophia is from. Maika is half human, half monster with some powers she can't entirely control. Powers that summon a beast within her that has changed the course of battles in the past like the oft-mentioned 'Battle of Constantine.' The weakest have it the worst and the comic doesn't shy away from the horrors of war, death, and torture. It doesn't relish it either. It is a matter-of-factly portrayed and not merely for shock value. Nothing chills the spine like a young being begging not to have parts of him eaten. 

I couldn't help but find parallels between Maika and Furiosa from 'Mad Max: Fury Road.' They both have indomitable spirits and steely determination. They both are missing part of their arm below the elbow and unhindered by it. And a relentless desire for revenge and justice driven from a place of deep loss and pain. Needless to say, but this is a mature fantasy adventure that only finds relief in a snarky talking cat with two tails during a couple of flashbacks. The rest of the story belongs to Maika's struggle and journey to defeat the monsters that are more human than creatures.

You will be immersed into this world because of Takeda's intricate and comprehensive attention to detail. This is a fully realized universe where every cobblestone in the street is accounted for, every strand of hair is delicately arranged, and every costume has layers, buttons and a style all its own. The wide landscapes, the deep wrinkles of a merciless jailer, the electricity of a spell all envelope the eyes longer than you expect it to and get lost in the amount of depth and character of each panel. 

'Monstress' #1 is a dazzling dark fantasy with subversive social and political undertones that cut at the heart our existence now as told through this grim fairytale of vengeance and injustice. Liu and Takeda have taken elements of steampunk, fantasy and kaiju and created a singularly frightening world where a young woman defies her oppressors but doesn't triumph without sacrificing part of her soul. This is the type of storytelling that envelopes you and doesn't let you go. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

WONDER WOMAN OF THE DAY: Fitness Model Gia Macool Embodies the Amazon Princess

The closest we'll ever get, probably, to superheroes in real life is through the great work of cosplayers. You see them at every pop culture convention from the very basic to extremely elaborate costume design. However, you don't have to be a cosplayer to enjoy dressing up as your favorite superhero from time to time. Take fitness model and entrepreneur Gia Macool for example. An accomplished fitness competitor and model, Macool is also a big fan of DC Comics' Wonder Woman. She shows her love of the iconic Amazon Princess in her fitness wear, meal prep accessories and even a full blown photo shoot in a Wonder Woman costume. 

For decades comics have featured very muscular superheroes, male and female, epitomizing the human form at its strongest. So when bodybuilders and fitness pros decide to suit up as these costumed heroes, they are the embodiment of those fictional characters in the flesh. Macool looks like she stepped out of the pages of a Wonder Woman comic with a suit …

Fitness Women in Superhero Body Paint by J.M. Manion

J.M. Manion has long been a successful photographer covering the fitness and bodybuilding industry. He has photographed some of the strongest, well-defined physiques on the planet. He's also had a love of super-heroes and comic books. So much so that Manion began publishing his own comic book, Iron Siren Comics, featuring some of the fitness competitors he's covered as superheroes themselves. It's no wonder he sometimes incorporates superhero cosplay and body paint into photo shoots. Here are just some examples of his work:

KICKSTARTER SPOTLIGHT: Tyler & Wendy Chin-Tanner's 'Dead Beats' Music Themed Horror Anthology

Dead Beats is a 160-page full-color anthology of music-themed horror comics centered around the curiosities for sale at one peculiar record store by its enigmatic Shoppe Keeper.

..if you're looking for new or used vinyl, cassettes, CDs, gear, or merch, Dead Beats has the best selection in town. Of course, everything we sell has a story and our friendly Shoppe Keeper is happy to tell you all about it. All sales final Edited by Joseph Corallo (Oh S#!t, It's Kim & Kim, Mine!) and Eric Palicki (This Nightmare Kills Fascists, All We Ever Wanted), Dead Beats features more than twenty comics stories and more than forty up-and-coming creators and industry veterans, as well as cover art and interstitial narrative illustrations by Lisa Sterle (Long Lost, Submerged).




From the Dead Beats introduction, illustrated by Lisa Sterle



From "Vanishing." Illustrations by Sally Cantirino from a script by Matthew Erman.

From "The Cursed Saxophone of Skasferatu." Illustrations by…

Poison Ivy's Rebirth From Child to Sexed-Up Adult on 'Gotham' Covered in New Featurette

The wacky world of Fox's Gotham has long embraced its brand of crazy. "Anything goes," seems to be the motto as the show has tried to fill in the blanks of a pre-Batman Gotham City. Besides making the future Commissioner Gordon an erratic hot-head, his future wife a sociopath, and brought back a villain from the dead, the latest stunt involves aging-up a teen Ivy Pepper magically into an adult to use her powers as a seductress.
Executive producer Ken Woodruff explained this creepy premise to THR: We made the change for two reasons: The character Ivy in the comics, one of her greatest powers is the power of seduction. Everyone was much more comfortable with that with an older actress as opposed to a teenager. We want to explore that classic, canonical power of Ivy. And we didn't just make her older with that attack. When she's changed and transformed, there's a real character change as well. She'll still have some of the same traits, but she'll be much d…

An Artist Will Get His Revenge in The Post-WWII Original Graphic Novel SIMON SAYS

Image Comics announces an all-new, original graphic novel Simon Says by Andre R. Frattino and Jesse Lee which will paint a post-World War II Europe in a scarlet shade of revenge this September.


Simon Says is a drama-filled, crime noir story that follows a former artist to the Führer who hunts down and seeks justice upon the Nazis he witnessed murder his friends and loved ones during the war. It is an original graphic novel inspired by true events and by a real-world Holocaust survivor, Simon Wiesenthal, an artist who lost his family and took justice into his own hands.
"Simon Says is about an innocent and gentleman, an artist, whose family and life are destroyed by a real-world event. Not something sci-fi or fanciful, but something that has happened and could happen again. In that way, it's the story of any of us, and how we would respond if who we were and what we had were lost,” said Frattino. "The real-life, famed Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, was quoted as once sayin…