Pirates, Mermaids, Monsters, Oh My! || Monstress, Vol. 2 Review

Initial Thoughts: 

Can this get any more EPIC? The answer is YES. There are pirates and animalistic Arcanics (THERE’S A SHARK GIRL WHAT) and old gods that eerily remind me of Alucard’s crazy demon form in Hellsing. And lawd, when’s the next set coming out because MORE PLS.


MONSTRESS, VOL. 2: THE BLOOD

by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda (illustrator)
Image Comics, July 2017
Graphic novel, science fiction, fantasy, steampunk
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

The Eisner-nominated MONSTRESS is back! Maika, Kippa, and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past… and discover a new, terrible, threat. Collects MONSTRESS #7-12.

I don’t think I’ve fallen so hard and so fast over a comics series than I had with Monstress, and honestly, it’s largely to do with the two amazing women who’ve brought this story to life on the illustrated medium. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda are mistresses of their craft, and together they managed to convey a wonderful story of a powerful girl in a world still reeling from the previous war and yet gearing for a new one.

The story follows after Volume 1 (Issues 1-6) and picks up the pace, sending Maika, Kippa, and Ren south to Thyria, Maika’s hometown. There, Maika regroups and enlists the help of pirates to ferry her further south, to the Cape of Bones, a place where Moriko Halfwolf had once traveled. To gain more information of the monster inside her, Maika follows her mother’s footsteps–and obsession with the legendary Shaman Princess–south, encountering dangers along the way, as well as a deeper understanding of how to control the Monstrum within.

As can normally be found in most first volumes, the first six issues of Monstress dealt with throwing as much information our way as possible. While Liu and Takeda managed to convey the information in creative ways (including a little professor-student talking panel every issue for the heavier worldbuilding aspects), most of the first volume was truly introductory. Yes, the second volume also deals with the addition of new characters, but by this point, we are familiar with a bit of the world and there’s less explaining to do. So for the most part, we can sit back and enjoy the story.

Well, sort of.

Then Liu comes around and throws us for a loop and we start to devour the next bits of fantastical element thrown our way. In this case, the sea Arcanics.

Yes, we saw the awesomeness of the Fox Queen and the Monkey King and by that point we are unsurprised by the group of “nekomancers” littering the pages (I mean, Ren is one of them…). But a motherfrelling Arcanic shark? Mermaids and sirens and bone-chilling sea creatures of doom? Hell yes!

Not to mention dapper ex-pirate lions and tigers, who, by the way, are friggin’ AWESOME.

I don’t know how they’re not super-hot in those outfits, I would be if I was sporting that much fur in my body. That said, CAN I GET THEIR CLOTHES? I’d so wear the shmat out of them.

And, because we needed more badass females, throw in a female captain in the mix.

Of course, the issues don’t just deal with Maika’s story, though hers takes center stage for the most part. Characters introduced in the previous issues–such as the Cumaea and the Dawn and Dusk Courts–recur in the next several issues, and while Maika’s journey is largely one of self-discovery, we have several other characters mobilized to find her. Chief among them is the Sword of the East, who is revealed to be Maika’s sole living relative, an aunt who had been unaware of her presence. The Cumaea is still after Maika’s Monstrum, while others seek to destroy her.

It’s no wonder Maika broods all the time. Shes’ got a shitton of people coming after her, and to add cherry to her fantastic life, the ravenous monster inside her is getting stronger and stronger, almost to the brink of being out of control.

And yet, she still has that sass that made me love her in the beginning issues.

The second volume is chock-full of action, and more of the story is revealed to the reader, including a back story of the old gods that used to live in the known world. If you thought the first volume was epic, the second one blows it out of the water. Hem hem.

And honestly, those issue cover illustrations.

I cannot gush enough about this volume of Monstress. I highly recommend it, for story, for female badassery, for a world that’s a mix of everything I love about fantasy/scifi worldbuilding. Now I feel like the Monstrum, because this series is making me insatiable. I want more please!

5 out of 5 cookies!

This counts as #11 of the Graphic Novels/Manga Reading Challenge and #4 of the Steampunk Reading Challenge.


Have you read this series? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2 & 3

I’ve been on a The Wicked + The Divine splurge since I borrowed it from my friend, and so far I’ve been enjoying it! That said, by the third volume I took a bit of a break because the third volume didn’t stack up as well for me. All the same, still worth the read, and I have two more volumes to get through before I run out!

Steampunk Madness and Matriarchs || Monstress, Vol. 1 Review

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Initial Thoughts: 

A speculative Asia during the 1900s with a largely matriarchal society on BOTH sides of a brutal human-beast war? New. Favorite. Series. EVER.

MONSTRESS, VOL. 1

by Marjorie M. Liu (author), Sana Takeda (illustrator)
Image Comics, July 2016
Graphic novel, science fiction, fantasy
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies
e-ARC provided by NetGalley

monstressSet in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both.

Image Comics Strikes Again

This time in an Asian steampunk world. And it looks effing fabulous. When I got an email about this series being opened up on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it. It’s been on my TBR since I was alerted to it by The Book Smugglers, and I do not regret it one bit.

First of all, Takeda’s artwork is gorgeous. It’s half manga, half Westernized comics, a perfect combination of both, and so detailed I almost wanted to screenshot every darn page. There were several times where a page was just filled with wordless panels, and my gosh, the illustrated depiction of what’s happening on that page…it certainly brings proof to the old “a picture is worth a thousand words” adage.

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The main character is a feisty, stubborn, kick-ass one-armed Asian woman. She’s survived a violent war. She’s survived a traumatic enslavement experience. She’s survived the loss of a limb and the aftermath of conflict between two powerful factions. She’s seen shit. And she’s angry. On top of that, she wants to know what’s happening–and what’s happened–to her. And she’ll break down doors if she has to. I love her to bits.

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She also has a lovely way with words, that Maiko.

The matriarchal powers that be. The series is rife with fem-power on both sides. In fact, some of the highest positions are held by women. One of the first immortal ancients we see is a Wolf Queen. The first half-breed is a powerful woman, someone who apparently shook the world. The Cumaea is an order of witch-nuns who’ve taken the highest form of power in the human government. Heck, Lady Sophia is displayed quite remarkably as a woman who buys Arcanic slaves. She’s in charge, she’s despicable, and she gives zero fucks because she has shit to do and Arcanics to experiment on. Not to mention the fact that there’s a little romance (LGBT from what I saw!) but so far it hasn’t overwhelmed the narrative. It’s female empowerment to the max.

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There’s no better way to walk into a slave auction than in style. I’ll give it to Lady Sophia, she knows how to make an entrance.

It’s an adventure story drenched with the problems of race, war, and disability (both physical and emotional). It’s dark and merciless and it definitely makes no apology in showing the cruelties of the post-war world. Takeda’s depiction of Liu’s people makes for a great collaboration, and there’s really not much I can say against the series at the moment. I loved the entire volume.

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Also, Mister Ren. That two-tailed cat is the bees’ knees.

5 out of 5 cookies! Now, I’m not sure where the rest of this series is going just yet, but my gosh, I want the next issues already. Like, now.


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Mini-Reviews: Paper Girls, I Hate Fairyland

A couple of graphic novel reviews! I probably could have said a lot more about Paper Girls, considering it is a Vaughan series and I’ve said quite a bit about the first two volumes of Saga. But maybe I’ll make up for it if I really enjoy the next volume.

As is, both volumes were provided by NetGalley.

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Review: Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Well. I did mean to start this series at some point. So when Banned Books Week started rolling in, and I was looking for something new on the ALA List of the frequently challenged, I saw Saga and immediately knew that was what I was going to read this week.

And how the heck does a book get challenged for being “anti-family” anyway?


SAGA

written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples
Image Comics, 2012
Graphic novel, space opera
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookiehalfrating / 5 cookies

sagaWhen two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

Gifly Thoughts

Go figure I’d love the first volume and want more, but I can’t continue right now because I was silly enough to ONLY borrow the first volume from the library. And my local library carries up to volume 4. Maybe 5 soon, since it recently did just get released. So here I am loving this series and short of buying it (which I really, really shouldn’t right now, me being on a budget and saving up for something else), I’m just going to have to wait to get the next installations once I’ve finished the other library books I’ve, erm…been hoarding.

Saga is a space opera revolving around an interspecies marriage between two sides that are currently rending the galaxy apart with some pointless war. Marko–a soldier-turned pacifist–and his wife, Alana, are being hunted both for desertion of their respective sides. Running away from bounty hunters is one thing, but doing so while caring for a newly-born infant and trying to keep a marriage together is quite a feat. In fact, I’m wondering how on earth Alana and Marko are managing.

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Can I say how much I love soldier-turned-pacifist Marko? Actually, you know what, Hazel has awesome parents. Alana’s just as badass as a mother, and she’s hilarious. The interaction between Marko and Alana kind of reminds me of John and Aeryn from Farscape. Because, you know, John kind of was the guy who tried not to hurt people, and Aeryn has absolutely no frellin’ problem shooting a gun at something that threatens her. With a baby, both sets of parents will certainly stop at nothing to rear their children in a peaceful world. Now that. That is swoonworthy and bucketloads of AWESOME.

Just…sigh.

Granted, I don’t think I can picture Aeryn having as voracious an appetite for smutty literature as Alana does. But you never know.

The narration of the story is by Hazel, Alana and Marko’s mixed-breed daughter, so I’m assuming this is a story that Hazel recalls years and years after she’s already grown and gotten old. Which means there’s at least one person alive at the end of this story (very promising, I tell ya!). The series, however, does not nearly tell only the parents’ perspectives; there are several other POVs that make this space story a “saga” indeed.

I couldn’t even dismiss the other POVs. The Will seems to have an interesting journey ahead of him. As a bounty hunter, he’s charged to find and exterminate Marko and Alana. For payment, he’s given a silver card that should cover his expenses across the galaxy. And what does this bugger go and do first? GO TO A WHOREPLANET.

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I can’t. I just…I lost it there.

Anyway. This volume had scifi. This volume had fantasy. This volume had awesome funny gems. And ghost characters that I loved. And just characters that are intriguing. I want more. MORE I TELL YOU.

4.5 out of 5 cookies!