Review: Monstress #4

monstress_04-1The worst part about reading Monstress is that it’s over far too quickly. Writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda have created a world both beautiful and terrible, and above all, utterly engrossing. The writing and art have been consistently gorgeous, evolving for the better each issue.

Liu has been careful in her reveal so far, purposefully immersing readers in the world bit by bit. With Monstress #4, she and Takeda create a bigger backdrop for the story, going into more detail on the political climate among the Cumaea, the Federation of Man, and the Arcanic hybrids. Significant character development gives the Inquisitrixes more presence in the story, and the Monstrum inside of Maika continues to make itself known. Liu’s worldbuilding is also increasingly expanding, giving more of a sense of the different races inhabiting the society and how they fit with one another. One helpful aspect of the story is the excerpt included at the end of the comic, which details the history between the Cumaea and the Arcanics.

Maika is again forced to confront the Monstrum, or it is forced to confront her as their relationship develops. The pacing of the story is steady, never too much at one time. It is deliberately unclear, and the information that Liu works into each issue is enough to keep readers guessing, but enough that the story doesn’t become frustrating in its obscurity. This is something that, overall, makes each new piece of information all the more exciting.

One thing that has never been in question, though, is that the obvious cruelty of the world runs much deeper than anyone knows. The series has consistently earned its mature rating, but not without reason. Cruelty and violence are important aspects of the story, allowing Maika to grapple with the morality of her revenge and how far she will go to achieve it.

Monstress is deserving of time, as it becomes a little more understandable on the second read through. It’s a comic that demands attention from the reader, not only for the story, but for the art, as well. Sana Takeda’s style is beautifully fluid, and each panel is full of movement. The character designs are each more visually interesting than the last, set against gorgeously detailed backgrounds. Takeda’s painterly art contributes to the sense that Monstress isn’t an average fantasy story.

Both visually and story-wise, Monstress continues to be one of Image’s most unique publications. The next two issues will be released monthly, after the short break between Monstress #3 and #4.

Story: Marjorie Liu Art: Sana Takeda
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.