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Monstress Volume 2: The Blood Paperback – July 11, 2017
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Marjorie Liu has done an admirable job in building a beautiful fantasy world with a well thought out history, wondrous places, and many different factions. At the end of each volume is a map that one can (needs to) refer to in order to understand the locations and sides. The artwork is meticulously and lushly rendered. My only ding on this (from 5 to 4.5 stars) is that there are so many different factions within the various alliances that have been introduced quite quickly that one can't process all of it accurately and deeply during the first reading. That may be an unfair hit though, as many of the great fantasy worlds are great because multiple readings/viewings enhance and enrich the experience.
Liu's work is dominated by female characters, but it isn't a political or social commentary on life in the 21st century. It is just a wonderful story that happens to have strong female leads. This is most welcome. Marvel comics, in particular, has been accused by some as pushing diversity for sales/diversity sake. Having more diverse characters is a good thing, but even more important is having quality stories. I brought this up to Junot Diaz, a friend of Ms. Liu's (fellow current Bostonian and also winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize), at an event at a local college last year. Mr. Diaz replied to the effect (I'm paraphrasing), "Part of the privilege white people enjoy is the ability to produce crap and keep doing it. When minorities produce crap, they don't get a second chance. In order to have quality work, we need to sift through a lot of crap."
Ms. Liu's work is outstanding. Some will look at it as the work of a female or minority writer, while others will say it is the work of a comic writer. Regardless of your political/social leanings, you will probably find that you appreciate the dialogue, enjoy the well-rounded and complex characters, admire the art, and are kept interested in the intricate and progressive plot. This is probably the fictional comic of the moment, more so than other great contemporaries such as Saga, Injection or Manifest Destiny.
On the other hand, it is beautifully illustrated and worth reading just for the artwork, even if the story can confuse. Reading Volume 1 will certainly help and there is more to come
I even liked the second book better than the first, mostly because Volume one laid a lot of the groundwork about the world and the factions, while Two can expand upon them and add interesting characters. Still, there's a lot of factions and cities to remember, always refer to the map in the very back if you get lost.
Truly worth the price. Get volume one and give this a go. Might be a new Favourite series.