Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie M. Liu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The first volume of this won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Novel in 2017, and for good reason. This volume ups the stakes and expands the world and characters, and should be on any comics fan's must-read list.
Marjorie Liu has an extensive publishing history, including a favorite urban fantasy series of mine, Hunter Kiss. Those books were the ones that first impressed me with her skill at worldbuilding. The Monstress world is more shivery Lovecraftian fantasy than the science-fictional feel of Hunter Kiss, but the depth and complexity of both universes stand out.
In this volume, Maika Halfwolf goes on a quest to follow in her (possibly) dead mother's footsteps, in an attempt to find a solution to the devouring Old God living inside her. (These provide the nearest parallel to Lovecraft--they're all eyes and tentacles.) She is accompanied by Ren Mormoriam, the twin-tailed cat that is revealed to be a "nekomancer," a magic user who can talk to the dead, and the adorable fox girl Kippa. (In fact, Kippa is probably my favorite character of the bunch. She's brave, innocent, loyal, kind, and has a highly developed sense of right and wrong, unlike the cynical Ren and the admittedly effed-up Maika.) During their sea journey to a mysterious island visited by Maika's mother, we are introduced to fascinating new characters, including a tiger, an octopus and a shark. More of Maika's backstory is revealed, and in the way of such things, a few questions are answered but far more are asked.
Once again, Sana Takeda's art is outstanding. This is not a book to be flipped through quickly--there are so many small details in the panels that each page deserves some leisurely study. Takeda captures perfectly the combination of beauty and horror that underlies this story. Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite graphic novels from last year.
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