Verdict: Simply stunning.
My rating: 5 put of 5 stars
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Published by Image Comics, 2017
Maika Halfwolf is on the run from a coalition of forces determined to control or destroy the powerful Monstrum that lives beneath her skin. But Maika still has a mission of her own: to discover the secrets of her late mother, Moriko.
In this second volume of Monstress, collecting issues 7-12, Maika’s quest takes her to the pirate-controlled city of Thyria and across the sea to the mysterious Isle of Bones. It is a journey that will force Maika to reevaluate her past, present, and future, and contemplate whether there’s anyone, or anything, she can truly trust–including her own body.
This is, simply put, absolutely stunning story-telling, on all possible levels. There is a reason why Marjorie Liu won the Eisner Award this year (as the first woman, I might add incredulously in the year 2018).
Picking up after the events of the last volume and not losing even the slightest bit of steam, Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda build on their already impressive worldbuilding, adding new cultures and more depth to this world that already feels much bigger than what we have seen so far. And also kickass female pirates.
The storytelling is layered and complicated – the world here is ravaged by ages of war and prejudice and hate against each other, with no race being wholly innocent in the matter. The authors do not shy away from gruesome pictures and elements of war in a way that never feels gratuitous. This complicated tapestry of people is exemplified in our main characters, Maika is difficult to like but easy to root for, her companions equally complicated with motivations that not always point in the same direction.
But nothing of the above points would work as well as it does without Sana Takeda’s absolutely brilliant art. It is intricate and sweeping and oh so very beautiful. I don’t know if I have ever read a graphic novel that was quite as visually stunning (maybe Sandman, maybe not even that). If you have any interest in feminist, complicated, dark, beautiful comics – you really should be picking this one up. I will be reading this until the very end.