I really enjoyed this comic, like most of the Image titles that I’ve read. Monstress doesn’t hold back any punches and drops you straight into a complex and multi layered world. I’ve read similar books/ comics before which don’t have much explanation, and myself see it as an artistic/ stylistic choice. As elements are slowly explained, I love having little ah-ha! moments as I connect the dots, filled with sudden comprehension. It’s almost like mind mapping, with radial connections spinning outward.
I read the hard copy TP that collects issues 1-6, which had especially revealing revelations in extra pages at the end of each issue/chapter, and the very last one had me gasp (in my head of course :P). (It’s all connecteddddd ahhhh!! I need the next volume immediately!!).
The things I liked included a number of things. The world itself, which in the synopsis is said to be an alternate 1900s Asia, I found to be a wholly separate fantasy world, although leaning heavily on a mix of Chinese, Japanese, and European influences, as well as ancient Egypt. No mummies here, but curses still unleashed from ancient ruins… The ancient Egyptian echoes really tickled my imagination, as did what is shown so far of the mythology. I enjoyed the art overall, although every now and then I found some characters looked a bit “manga-cheesy”. The landscapes and images of floating ‘dead’ gods spanning the sky were beautiful & haunting.
I loved that basically 90% of the characters are women; villains, heroes and even passing characters, like the helpful merchant woman on the road. A huge variety of female relationships can be seen, and its fantastic to see in a comic. And so many POC! A++ on these issues for sure.
Another point that stuck out to me: the main character is not necessarily fully ‘likable’ – which I actually liked a lot. You see it a lot in male anti-heroes; surly, violent, full of conflict. Female characters are not often given the same freedom, at least when they’re protagonists. Not to say that she’s unlikable – just that she has more ragged edges than what I’m used to seeing (in a good way!).
Finally, there are explorations of many heavy topics, some of which I don’t think are really covered properly (such as the child slavery, as mentioned in the review by Sugar) but perhaps they’ll be more fleshed out in the next TP. Bits of the war reminded me vaguely of Fullmetal Alchemist, which handled similar issues brilliantly. Overall Monstress, at its core, is an adventure story with elements of mystery and fantasy, and fun to read.
I’ll be following this story & look forward to seeing how this story unfolds.