December 7, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Comic Review: Monstress Volume 4

Maika Halfwolf and her companions are separated and having their own problems thanks to the mysterious Lord Doctor.

Yeah, if I am reviewing comic series I have not read in a while, then Monstress seems to be a good place to get back to.  Like yesterday’s review, I last touched a volume of this in 2018…the same week as my birthday that year.

That was an awful graphic I made for a banner image that week.

However, I actually had an issue with Monstress that did keep me coming back right away.  Was it resolved in Volume 4, subtitled The Chosen?  Well, no, but it’s not necessarily a dealbreaker.

Following the events of the previous volume, our three protagonists have been separated as all three slowly make their way to a central location.  That would be the domain of a fellow calling himself “Lord Doctor”.  He’s bringing them all in himself for different reasons.  And anyone assuming he wants Maika Halfwolf just to get his hands on Zinn, the monster inside her, is not quite right.

He does want Zinn.  He just wants Maika as well because she happens to be his daughter.

For Nekomancer Master Ren, the cat, there’s another problem.  He worked for Lord Doctor when Maika was a baby, but he doesn’t remember that.  He’s also been spying on the group and doesn’t really remember that either.  He does now, but Maika also knows, and she isn’t the forgiving type.

And then there’s Kippa the fox-girl.  Long seen as little better than an innocent girl who somehow got sucked into this whole mess, now we learn she has some mystical powers of her own that even she isn’t overly aware of.  That makes her something of a desirable target for Lord Doctor as well, particularly since he’s been secretly recruiting the greatest military tacticians from around the world.  War is coming, and Lord Doctor has his own plans for it.

As always, there’s a lot to like about Monstress.  Marjorie Liu’s female-centric story is a nice change of pace over many fantasy stories that tend to have male protagonists.  Monstress is set in a world where men are more or less rare…like women in so many other comic book and/or fantasy stories.  Sana Takeda’s artwork is still gorgeous, but that there is actually the series’s weak point for me:  it is not always the best for storytelling purposes, and many of her characters look incredibly similar.  It’s been a while since I read any of it, but being able to tell characters apart would be a great benefit, such that I was sure that some scenes featuring Maika in a flashback of some kind actually featured, well, other women who also look like her.  Considering how many factions are at work in this series, that didn’t help me remember who was who, but much of the blame there lies with myself for not checking back in sooner.  For a series like Monstress, it would be helpful not to let something like this series sit so long between readings.

But as for this one, the plot thickens, more adversaries and fewer potential allies appear, and our heroes reunite even if Maika would just assume find out how many ways there are to skin a cat.  8 out of 10 subdued godlike beings.