Monstress takes place in a magical world where there is a temporary truce going on between two different races. The humans, or the Children of Eden, have been at war with the Archanics, a magical hybrid race bred from the Ancient Ones who are immortal beast-like magical creatures.
The two races used to live in harmony, but the humans discovered lilium, a magical substance produced by decaying Archanic bodies. This substance gives humans magical powers, heals, and can even give longevity. Their desire for this substance droves rifts between the two societies.
On top of that there is a religious society called the Cumaeans whose greed for lilium has been feeding the political climate and influencing the human’s desire for war against the “unclean” Archanics.
Our heroine is Maika, an Archanic girl who has a monster living under her skin. It has recently become active and it needs to feed, bursting from Maika’s arm. But of course it isn’t a mindless evil force, that would be way too simple for this story. No, it has a mind and voice and by the end of the volume we’ve just scratch the surface of understanding its desires.
There is so much story packed into this first volume. There is a whole world of past conflicts and mythology that is well presented, you never feel lost or confused and you are definitely interested in learning more. Super helpful is the lecture at the end by Professor Tam Tam, telling you bits of history that is hard to convey in the story without being too info-dumpy.
I love Maika. She’s been through a lot before the story, and now she’s hurt and angry, but she is also fierce and resourceful. She can defend herself with almost anything and despite everything, deep down she is a good person.
She is accompanied by a fox girl that she saved named Kippa. She’s timid and loyal, but even she has a bold streak when it come down to it.
And then there is Master Ren, one of the many cat characters in the story, who seems to have accidentally got sucked into Maika’s quest to find out about herself and the monster inside her. Which, let’s be real, talking cat, what could be better?
But let’s talk about the biggest seller of this series. The art.
The second that you see the cover it’s just one of those wow moments. I would almost recommend reading this comic digitally just so you can zoom in and see all the details in each panel. And it’s not just a few key panels that are detailed, it’s every single one. But for all the details that are included not a one of them are confusing or cluttered.
You’re going to fall in love with the art alone on the first few pages. Seriously, I cannot emphasize enough how stunning it is.
And the character designs. Just phenomenal. Every character looks unique and beautiful, but then you look at their clothes. I don’t there was an outfit I didn’t want in here. So many random influences have come together to make this incredible style. There is some art deco, a little bit of steampunk, Egyptian, your traditional fantasy art and of course, anime.
Monstress is definitely the new comic to watch out there. It has everything you could ever want from an intense story to well thought out world to art that will make you want to lick the page.
This series reminds me of books from A Daughter of Smoke and Bone to The Abhorsen series and even Saga. So if you’re a fan of any of those series then this you’re going to love Monstress. And if you’re not I guarantee you’re going to be entranced with the series from the first page.