[Graphic Novel Reading Challenge 2017] – Monstress Vol. 01 – Awakening

It’s been nearly a good twenty years since the manga boom has hit the Western world, but I have yet to truly ever see a Western comic with (what I feel) Manga aesthetic.

Sure there have been manga artists working on comics (Tsutomo Nihei on Snikt, Kia Asamiya on Batman: Child of Dreams, quite a few others that I cannot think off of the top of my head) and there have been a butt-ton of new artists that have incorporated manga style into their own work (Bryan Lee O’Malley…some others whose names again escape me, forgive me, I got issues) – but none have fully felt like a Japanese mangaka is doing a Western comic).

Then we get this little beauty.

Sana Takeda’s art style is superb – reminding me of Berserk‘s Kentaro Miura, but, lighter – and she has such a nice design sense, everyone feels unique and interesting and are easily recognizable. She has a great eye for detail and action, making me a little sad that this series is taking so long to come out, but with every issue I read, I say quietly to myself, “it’s so worth the wait.”

The soft palate of colors is also a really good choice, helping to soften the blend of manga and Western comic ideas (this comic would be very weird in only black-and-white, but also pop-colors would do it no favors).

The other thing that helps is that the story that Marjorie Liu is crafting feels just right for Takeda’s art. I can easily find myself playing a Square-Enix version of this right now. I don’t know if that was an insult or praise, but still the story itself is quite good as you are thrown into magic, monsters, and intrigue that you have no idea where it is going. She paces the issues really well, progressing enough in each chapter that it feels like you are reading a sizable chunk for your change (which you are, since each chapter is extra-long compared to other comics).

While only one volume is out, it tells a significant amount of story and will look you in with regret as you wait for July to roll around to get that second volume…so maybe better if you don’t start this series in the end!


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