cover image Monstress, Vol, 1: Awakening

Monstress, Vol, 1: Awakening

Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda. Image, $9.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-632157-09-6

Lush, disturbing artwork by Takeda (Ms. Marvel) creates an atmosphere of chaos, oppression, magic, and dread in this fantasy tale. Writer Liu (Astonishing X-Men) spins an interesting if confusing yarn about a war between humans and animal-like Arcanics, centering around a young “chosen one”–type Arcanic, Maika Halfwolf. Human witches imprison and chop up the bodies of their Arcanic enemies in secret to eat their life force, an act that includes the dismemberment of Arcanic children. Maika breaks free from her fate, only to find that she’s possessed by a demon hiding within her arm. Takeda’s visuals recall realistic, gritty manga such as Lone Wolf and Cub, with magic and monsters to rival those of Hayao Miyazaki’s films. The bleak worldbuilding will satisfy fans of grim but humanist SF and fantasy. The labyrinthine drawings enchant, but the convoluted storytelling and extreme violence may drive away more casual readers. (July)