Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening (Monstress #1) by Marjorie M. Liu (Writer), Sana Takeda (Artist), Rus Wooton (Letterer, Designer)

October 17, 2016
Majorie M Liu, Monstress Volume 1: Awakening, Rus Wootan, Sana Takeda, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Image Comics on July 19, 2016
Format Read:  Paperback Edition (202 pages)
Genre: Horror/ Fantasy/ Sci-fi
Series: Book One of Monstress (Chapters One-Six)
Source: Purchased
Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening
Set in an alternate world of art deco beauty and steampunk horror, Monstress tells the epic story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage survivors of a cataclysmic war between humans and their hated enemies, the Arcanics. In the face of oppression and terrible danger, Maika is both hunter and hunted, searching for answers about her mysterious past as those who seek to use her remain just one step behind...and all the while, the monster within begins to awaken...

Collecting: Monstress 1-6


This comic appealed to me on every level possible. Strong Female protagonist check, Cats as a race check, Strong World Building check, non-white characters check, Fearsome Villain check, Witches check, Humor Check,  Action check and Fantastic Fantasy elements check. This comic rocks because it's unique storytelling reaches in, engages you and doesn't let you go. Maika Halfwolf is a force to be reckoned with, she manages to be fearless, reflective, violent, and admirable through this whole volume. Maika sets off on a mission to discover who she is and why, a teenager who refuses to give up until she finds answers. Along the way we learn about this fantasy world, that is cruel, unforgiving and filled with entity's who are after her. 

Maika is a Monstress because a being has latched on to her, one she doesn't understand but which could have serious implications for the world around her.  Maika is Arcanic which is a race created by human and Ancient's mating. Arcanics don't usually look human, but are invaluable for humans who use them as slaves and worse. The Cats are wise beings, who can talk, are not to be trusted, and multi-tailed characters I grew to love. There is also so much quality humor that this could also be labeled as a dark comedy. In the midst of being introduced to amazing characters, the author was able to weave in significant amounts of world-building that was presented flawlessly. The main characters are powerful women, who's powers are unmatched, and caused me to swoon. This reads like a fantasy love letter to all the wonderful women characters who have too often been left out of fiction. 

This is one of my new favorite comics, and I will happily re-read it before I dive into Volume 2, because there is so much subtle wonderfulness to unpack. The artwork was dark, beautiful, and minimized enough to never become distracting. I felt privileged to find such quality writing, and I fell in love with all of the multi-layered well developed characters. The ending hints at future adventures full of surprises, and sure not to disappoint. I would recommend this to every adult reader, who enjoys fantasy, well thought out world building, and fantastic characters. 


New York Times bestselling and award-winning writer Marjorie Liu is best known for her fiction and comic books. She teaches comic book writing at MIT, and she leads a class on Popular Fiction at the Voices of Our Nation (VONA) workshop.

Ms. Liu is a highly celebrated comic book writer. Her extensive work with Marvel includes the bestselling Dark Wolverine series, NYX: No Way Home, X-23, and Black Widow: The Name of the Rose. She received national media attention for Astonishing X-Men, which featured the gay wedding of X-Man Northstar and was subsequently nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding media images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Ms. Liu also wrote the story for the animated film, Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher, which was produced by Marvel, Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan) Inc., and Madhouse Inc.

Her newest work is MONSTRESS, an original, creator-owned comic book series with Japanese artist (and X-23 collaborator) Sana Takeda. Published by Image in Fall 2015, MONSTRESS is set in an alternate, matriarchal 1920’s Asia and follows a girl’s struggle to survive the trauma of war. With a cast of girls and monsters and set against a richly imagined aesthetic of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS #1 debuted to critical praise. The Hollywood Reporter remarked that the longer than typical first issue was “world-building on a scale rare in mainstream comics.”
Ms. Liu is also the author of more than 19 novels, most notably the urban fantasy series, Hunter Kiss, and the paranormal romance series, Dirk & Steele. Her novels have also been bestsellers on USA Today, which described Liu “as imaginative as she is prolific.” Her critically praised fiction has twice received the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, for THE MORTAL BONE (Hunter Kiss #6), and TIGER EYE (Dirk & Steele #1). TIGER EYE was the basis for a bestselling paranormal romance video game called Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box. Ms. Liu was born in Philadelphia, and has lived in numerous cities in the Midwest and Beijing. Prior to writing full-time, she was a lawyer. She currently resides in Boston.

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