Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What I Read: Monstress (#1)

This is my latest freebie from NetGalley: the first issue of Marjorie Liu's Monstress.

I said last week that I wanted the next thing I read to be easy and good. Well, you don't get much easier than comics (no shade, fans: I'm one of you!) and Monstress is really, really good, so: itch scratched!

Monstress is the brainchild of Marjorie Liu, brought to life by Sana Takeda. Set in an alternate universe/fantasy version of 1900s Asia, Monstress is the story of Maika, a young woman caught up in the war between humans and "arcanum"—creatures with supernatural abilities.

The series is just at 6 issues so far, which are available in a trade paperback. Issue #7 is due out in September. So that's everything you need to know if you want a copy yourself. Now for my thoughts.

0. Why can't I get a goddamn ereader app to work for me? I now have five (5!!) different apps on my phone and it seems like I have to fiddle with things forever until one of them decides to play nice with a file.

1. I have never been a fan of the traditional Golden Age/Silver Age art style in comics. There's nothing particularly distinctive about it and it's just blah. Comics and graphic novels with unique or just different art styles will always grab my attention. Past favorites include:

  • The Alchemy, David Mack (I got into Kabuki backwards from this, after I picked up a random issue of The Alchemy at the local comic shop)
  • The Mystery Play, Grant Morrison
  • Pop Gun War, Farel Dalrymple

Let me know if you can recommend any others!

But Takeda's style is lush and fantastic, with many obvious nods to Art Deco. I just want to stare at the art ALL DAY. So many tiny little lines and details.

2. Diversity: many of the background characters, as well as Maika, are women. Many of the antagonists and allies are women. Set in (an imaginary?) Asia, everyone is also not white but also not caught up in Asian stereotypes/tropes. No opium dens, Fu Manchus, or geisha girls to be seen.

3. Body diversity: people look different. People are short, tall, old, fat, skinny. Of course, Maika is young and beautiful (though missing her left arm), but I have no idea what or who is coming up in future issues. Things bode well so far, though.

4. The steampunk/fantasy setting is intriguing—it's a world that feels fantastic and opulent and also real, but things are very rarely bogged down by clunky infodumps or exposition (this is arguably a matter of taste and YMMV on what feels clunky).

5. The first issue sets things up for a pretty standard "avenge my dead parent" story, but it's clear by the end that there's going to be a lot more going on AND I NEED TO FIND OUT.

Like Pop Gun War, this is definitely a series I'll be purchasing in print format. Unlike Pop Gun War, new issues seem to be coming out regularly so it won't be too hard to get my fix. Yeah!

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