Humble Bundle had a sale a few weeks ago for Image comics. I paid ten dollars for thirty-six volumes of various series, including Monstress Vol. 1. The sale is over now, but I do highly recommend checking out Humble Bundle’s book or video game bundles in the future for cheap games and books!
Monstress is a gorgeous series. Artwork is a big factor in how much I like a graphic novel/series, and this series delivers. I cannot believe the amount of detail artist Sana Takeda puts into each scene. Monstress‘s plot is also quite intricate. Maika Halfwolf is our “monstress.” The story begins with her being held prisoner by a high-ranking woman in this 1900’s matriarchal fantasy/steam punk universe. As bad as it may look for her, it is all part of Maika’s plan. She is looking for answers about the recent war, her mother, and the strange being she seems to be connected to, and the woman she believes can answer her questions is her captor. Throughout volume one, Maika struggles with her strange, possessive power while trying to keep her friends and what is left her family safe. Also, this looks like it will be a violent series, so if that is not your thing, you may want to steer clear of it.
Maybe that is not the best synopsis, but I’m still a little in the dark about what is going on too. The plot has a lot to it, and I felt like some of the details went over my head amid all the action. There’s quite a bit of action with big world-building details thrown in without too much context. The world in this series seems very interesting. There is some deep-seated fear and racism among the people who inhabit the world as well as some political conspiracies, maybe? Add to that a strange group of gods/monsters pulling strings behind the scenes. There are still many questions that need answers by the end of volume 1, but I felt satisfied with how it ended. The major arcs get tied up for the time being, but the final pages hint at more mysteries.
There are quite a few characters already introduced in the series, which was one of my issues with this volume. I wanted more time with all of the characters. It was hard to feel connected to some of them when they weren’t given enough “page-time.” The main character, Maika, is bit distant too, which doesn’t help my connection issue. She has a lot of depth, but it feels like she/the author is holding a lot of her personality back. Maika has a lot of trauma and anger that will probably be dealt with throughout the series, leading to her growth. The other two main protagonists are a little fox-tailed child and a talking cat. They give the dark tale some needed levity, and I am sure they will become more important later. (There is an entire race of talking, lore-centric, multi-tailed cats in this series, and that’s all I really needed to know to want to read this!)
I really liked this first volume. Not quite a perfect five out of five, but I see a lot of potential, and I am very ready for volume two.