Monstress vol. 2: The Blood
written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda
Published July 2017
From Goodreads: The Eisner-nominated MONSTRESS is back! Maika, Kippa, and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past… and discover a new, terrible, threat.
Monstress, vol. 2: The Blood picks up right where volume one left off: with Maika searching for answers about herself and her mother, with the fox-child Kippa and the cat nekomancer Ren by her side and the rest of the world a half-step behind them.
Maika returns to the city of Thyria, a place she used to call home as a child. Sort of. There, she finds old allies and enlists their help in her search. They reluctantly agree, not knowing the danger Maika puts them in with her very presence. Though the journey is largely peaceful, complications arise as they near their destination, forcing Maika to remember her brutal upbringing- memories entwined with the nature of her mother’s greatest secret.
The first volume of Monstress introduced us to this amazing world and its complicated cast of characters, politics, and history. It was expansive and contained many, many characters and succeeded at building a gorgeous world I wanted to see more of, while weaving multiple storylines together without dropping any of them or banishing any of the mystery that made the first volume such a compelling read.
Volume two focuses more closely upon Maika and her compatriots, Kippa and Ren. While the rest of the world is certainly not forgotten, it doesn’t feature as much as it did in volume one. And for good reason. Because of her nature, Maika is the lynchpin her world revolves around. I wouldn’t call it destiny. There are no massive prophecies here, just the machinations of old goddesses and the ruminations of poets and sorcerers. Maika is what her mother raised her to be- strong and dangerous- but with Mariko long dead, Maika must face the consequences of her mother’s actions alone. Whether this will be to the benefit or detriment of the world remains to be seen.
While I didn’t find Volume 2: The Blood quite as compelling as Volume 1: Awakening, it’s still an intriguing chapter in this story. With the grounding that Awakening provides, I’m starting to see how the threads of the story are woven together, and how the history of this world affects its present- and its future.
The notion of a long-standing matriarchy- where women rule and lead armies- is fascinating, as it doesn’t simply flip traditional roles so that women are the hunters and warriors and men are the caregivers. That would be too simple for a story as complex as Monstress. Instead, the matriarchal system allows women to display their inherent power without stripping strength from men. All genders are strong here, but they use their strengths in different ways.
The artwork of The Blood is just as mind-blowing as it was in Awakening. I would still describe it as art deco steampunk that revels in detail without allowing that detail to detract from the story. The intricacies and coloring do as much to tell a character’s story as the writing itself. Liu and Takeda have formed a perfect partnership with this series, marrying writing to art in such a way that every panel flawlessly adds to the story.
Like Awakening, The Blood is not a story for younger readers. It contains foul language and violence, and so should go to at least a PG-13 audience.