MONSTRESS 4: The Chosen by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda
Set in an alternate matriarchal 19th century Asia, with a steampunk/art deco/Egyptian aesthetic, this is the story of Maika Halfwolf and the terrible demonic presence that resides within her, one that sporadically bursts forth to cause destruction and mayhem, but occasionally offering her advice and companionship as well.
Her world is in the middle of a devastating war, in which magic and science are constantly finding new ways to spread ruination, and increasingly powerful forces threaten to end all of civilization. Maika finds herself in the company of a man called the Lord Doctor, who claims to be her long-lost father — though Maika doesn’t trust him at all.
This volume, which is comprised of issues nineteen to twenty four, feels more like a transition than a continuation. The characters are shuffled around, questions are raised and (partially) answered, and you feel as though things are being brought to the brink of a massive change. A lot of Maika’s background is explored here, as well as some focus on Kippa and resolution for Ren.
(MONSTRESS Vol. 4: The Chosen (2019) is a great volume for Kippa in particular; after being a tagalong kid paralyzed by fear for most of this journey, she finally starts to act with bravery and cunning).
At this point the politics are impenetrable: I honestly couldn’t tell you who is allied with who or what each faction’s ultimate goals are. I’m here for Takeda’s gorgeous artwork and a story that is overwhelmingly populated with female characters — good and bad, young and old, rich and poor. It’s exhilarating to have so many dynamics between such a wide range of women, and this aspect has always been the major drawcard for me.
Hopefully things will start to head towards a climactic finish after this volume; I feel that all the necessary characters have been introduced, and all the pieces put in place for a strong conclusion.
MONSTRESS Vol. 4: The Chosen contained everything I love from the MONSTRESS saga: the female characters, the extraordinary illustrations, the complex world-building, and the promise of more adventures to come.