November 27, 2020

Review: Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild

Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild by Marjorie M. Liu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I still like this series and will continue with it, but it's getting to the point where we really need a list of Dramatis Personae and a concordance to explain the various factions. We finally get the backstory of what happened at Constantine six years ago and why Maika Halfwolf lost her arm (and exactly who Zinn is) but it's getting hard to tell the difference between the (Human?) Federation and everyone else running around trying to kill one another.

And make no mistake, this is the bloodiest of the collections so far. This series has been grimdark from the beginning, but when I finished this one, I thought I might need to wipe up the blood dripping from the pages. Even my favorite character, Kippa the fox girl, gets drawn into doing, as she puts it, "terrible things" (and I mourned the loss of the last shreds of her innocence). In that sense Maika is the perfect protagonist, as she is an unrepentant killer (even the Old God inside her, Zinn, occasionally shows remnants of a conscience and has regrets).

One note regarding the art. Sana Takeda's art is intricate and gorgeous as usual, but this time around there's even less color. It's muted browns, blacks and grays, and a lot of twilight and night panels, which befits the bleak subject matter, I suppose. Nevertheless, that kind of background sometimes makes it hard to tell individual characters apart. In particular it was difficult for me to distinguish Tuya and Maika, at least until the last scene of Chapter Twenty-Nine when I realized just which two-tailed (or rather one-tailed, since he left one tail with Kippa) cat was talking to Tuya. Again, this is why we need a Dramatis Personae list, because this cast is only getting bigger and the relationships more complicated.

Still, this is a complex, intricate world, and if you can stand the blood and gore in this one, it's a worthy continuation to the story.

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