Book Review: Monstress: Volume Two – The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

Image Description: the book-cover of the graphic-novel Monstress – Volume Two: The Blood. On the right side of the comic is The Great Wave off Kanagawa (with scaly hands reaching through). In the centre of the comic is the main character Maika, holding Kippa (kitsune child – a small child with fox ears and a fox-tail), and a ginger-cat. On the left side of the comic is a large pyramid and columns that belong inside a temple.

Title: Monstress, Volume Two: The Blood (Book #2 of The Monstress Series)
Author and Artist: Majorie Liu (author) and Sana Takeda (artist)
Social Media:
Majorie Liu – Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter
Sana Takeda – Goodreads
Publisher: Image Comics Inc.
Format and Price: PDF US $12.99 (AU $17.69)
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Marjorie Liu is an attorney and NYT Bestselling author of over seventeen novels. Her comic book work includes X-23, Black Widow, Dark Wolverine, and Astonishing X-Men, for which she was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding media images of the LGBTQIA+ community. She teaches a course on comic book writing at MIT and lives in Cambridge, MA.

About The Artist:
Sana Takeda is an illustrator and comic book artist who was born in Niigata and now resides in Tokyo, Japan. At the age of twenty, she started out as a 3D CGI designer for SEGA and became a freelance artist when she was twenty-five. She is still an artist, and has worked on such titles such as X-23 and Ms. Marvel for Marvel Comics, and is an illustrator for trading card games in Japan.

About The Book:
Maika Halfwolf is on the run from a coalition of forces determined to control or destroy the powerful Monstrum that lives beneath her skin. But Maika still has a mission of her own: to discover the secrets of her late mother, Moriko. 

In this second volume of Monstress, collecting issues 7-12, Maika’s quest takes her to the pirate-controlled city of Thyria and across the sea to the mysterious Isle of Bones. It is a journey that will force Maika to reevaluate her past, present, and future, and contemplate whether there’s anyone or anything, she can truly trust–including her own body.

General Observation:
~The Plot Thickens: While I thoroughly enjoy this series thus far, the short number of pages inside these volumes leaves little space for plot development, which means the author and the artist have to justify every page. In my view, I suspect this is going to be a series that requires multiple re-readings for all the pieces to come together.

In the previous volume, the ghosts of the Elder Gods are wandering around in this dimension, easily seen by the Arcane. During this volume, the reader finds out a little more about the Elder Gods, how they came to be in this dimension, and small hints of the war between The Ancients and The Elder Gods. Although, given the fact that the reader receives this information via the Bloody Fox, it might not be the most reliable.

On the plus side, it was good to finally know something about the Elder God lurking inside of Maika, and his connection to the mysterious Shaman Empress. It was also good to finally know something a little more about Maika’s mother Moriko. Let’s just say that Moriko Half-wolf is a very mysterious woman with plenty of enemies and allies. In this volume, the reader gets a small amount of information on the Half-wolf family politics, why Maika doesn’t have any contact with relatives, and how the Dawn Court is involved in all this mess.

~Character Development: It’s great to see Kippa’s personality develop in this volume. Kippa still follows Maika around like a lost puppy, but in this volume, Kippa learns how to swim, she’s quite capable of standing up for herself, and asserting what she wants.

At first, I kind of objected to Maika’s attitude and treatment of Kippa. I get why Maika is the way she is: her mother was killed mysteriously and she was forced to live in horrific conditions inside of slave concentration camp. Poor social skills and a lack of empathy are a given under those conditions.

On the other hand, the reader sees Maika’s flashbacks of her childhood and the sorts of… “lessons” her mother taught her, all with the “good intentions” of making sure Maika survives. To me, it’s clear Moriko loved her daughter, but she doesn’t appear to have a conventional way of showing it. Then again, given how the plot is going, perhaps Moriko suspected Maika’s life would be harder than the average Arcane.

So I guess, in a weird way, it makes sense that Maika has been treating Kippa the same way her mother treated her. Maika wants Kippa to survive even though Maika is the biggest threat to Kippa’s safety. The bonding between the main trio is sweet but concerning.

All in all, an intriguing volume to a complex series that unfortunately raised more questions than it answered, but I guess that’s okay, I assume that it’s all part of the plan. Hopefully, there will be more answers about the Dawn and Dusk Court in volume three (which isn’t out until August).

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