November 4, 2015 • Cee • Comics

Do “steampunk” and “Kaijus” peak your interest? If so, well, you can join me in flailing about an awesome comic that’s out on Wednesday— it’s called Monstress!

When I heard Monstress was announced back in January, I knew this was gonna be a comic I would absolutely love. You have women of color writing and illustrating; gorgeous art; monsters; all types of female characters who are tough and layered; and so much more. I was beyond excited when I saw a solicitation email about it. (Imagine a lot of disbelief gawking of the email and refreshing the page to make sure I wasn’t imagining it.)

Monstress is described as:

Set in an alternate 1900’s Asia, Monstress tells the story of a teenage girl 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…

Your reaction reading that better be, “holy shit, I want to read this.”

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT MONSTRESS ALREADY

  • It’s created by an all Asian team of women.

At the helm of this comic, you have two women of color—Marjorie Liu (X-23), the writer, and Sana Takeda (Carol Danver’s Ms. Marvel), the artist. And you know what I say to that? Yes! Finally! Representation of Asian characters in the American comic world by women who share the same race. I’m here for this! I’m tired of seeing white dudes inflicting offensive stereotypes of Asian women and hypersexualizing them to fulfill their Asian fantasy fetish. With Liu and Takeda in charge of Monstress, you know they will treat their characters with sensitivity and give readers a whole lot of female empowerment. They know where they’re gonna take their characters, and I’m excited to read their character’s journey.

  • Monstress shows all types of women—powerful in different ways.

These are women who have experienced different walks of life. You see women acting as slave owners, scientists, lab rats, mothers, and so on.

In an interview, Liu said she wanted to show that there was more than “one mode of powerful woman in adventure,” and she does a great job at it.

Monstress opens with a scene of Maika Halfwolf, a seventeen year old young Arcanic girl, naked, half her left arm missing and her neck encased in a chain collar. It may seem like Maika’s in a vulnerable state, but that’s far from the scene that Liu and Takeda are portraying. Maika is strong; she put herself in that position to be gawked at and treated like a slave because she’s got a plan; she knows what she’s doing. They might treat her like shit, but she knows she’ll have the last laugh. This girl is gonna fight—the Cumaea (the people who are oppressing her people) and the monsters that hide inside of her.

Then there’s characters like Sophia Fekete, a well-known Cumaea witch-nun, who’s well-known for her knives and regularly buys Arcanics like Maika and uses them as lab rats for her experiments. You see the awful things she’s doing to prove the existence of Monstras, who are rumored to exist, and to feed her mother who has a taste for Arcanics.

I love Liu’s portrayal of these different types of women and the way they’re exerting their power.

  • The artwork is layered with so much beauty and grimness. 

Sana Takeda has a way of transporting you to the setting and the time period with her art. You don’t forget for a second that you’re in this alternate steampunk Asia world. The level of detail Takeda puts into her drawings in each panel amazes me. From the buildings to the clothing, they’re so intricately designed with reminders of art deco and steampunk. There’s so much to take in; if you examine a panel, you can see how much it tells you about the character or the scene, and sense all the extravagance, the pain and ugliness of this world.

(Look at all the influences of the West in this world.)

The art can be gruesome at times, portraying scenes with blood and gore, but they’re done so well. I didn’t shy away from it like I usually do because Takeda, herself, doesn’t shy away when she’s illustrating this world; I was absolutely captivated, . That’s the power of Sana Takeda’s art.

(You can get a preview of the first few pages of Monstress. Look at that art!)

WHAT I HOPE FOR IN FUTURE ISSUES OF MONSTRESS

  • For the appearance of the leviathans (the Kaiju-like creatures)!

It’s no doubt that they will appear. Maika with her trusty monster by her side. The first issue alludes to those monsters who Sophia claimed to have saw at the Battle of Constantine but was deemed an hallucination. I’m so excited to learn about their origins, and what they can do and why they were deemed a myth.

  • To see how these characters deal with the aftermath of a war.

You already see a bit of how the war affected these characters. You see it in the hardness in Maika’s eyes, her defiant stance as she goes after what she had lost. You see it in the discord between the Cumaea and the Arcanics. Monstress will tackle more of the ef

  • Mythologies.

I don’t know what mythologies to expect, but I trust Marjorie Liu to deliver awesome and captivating storytelling!

  • So much more I can’t think of at the moment! 

Just give me all of it. I’m ready!

Who will love this issue? Lovers of Kaiju-like monsters, well-developed Asian characters, powerful women, gorgeous art. People who support more diverse representation in comic books, and likes books that reflects on what women are facing in this world today, fighting society’s patriarchy who deny them rights, but told in an alternate fantasy-steampunk world.

Are you convinced? Add to your TBR on Goodreads. Go buy Monstress from your local comic book store, or these online retailers: Comixology · Midtown Comics · TFAW.

(Monstress is so worth getting a physical copy. For the price of $4.99, you get 66 pages of story and no ads in the first issue.)

What do you think of Monstress? Convinced you should read it? (You should.)

 

4 Responses to “COMIC FIRSTS · The Beauty of Monstress + The Powerful Women In It”

  1. Steph says:

    The art looks amazing and I had not heard of this, I will have to track it down. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Alexa S. says:

    I received an email about this one too, but wasn’t sure that I wanted to read it! Your thoughts on Monstress make it sound FANTASTIC though, and now I’m curious enough to want to check it out :)

  3. Charlotte says:

    I got a little emotional reading your review because EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS. WOMEN OF COLOUR. STEAMPUNK ASIA. KAIJUS. I NEED TO LIE DOWN FOR A SECOND.

  4. Shannelle says:

    OMGGGGG CEE I WANT THIS. I just don’t think I can find it realistically in China or the Philippines, but I will hope! I’m always up for some more Chinese influenced fiction.


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