Monstress (comics)

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Monstress #1 cover
Publication information
PublisherImage Comics
FormatOngoing series
GenreEpic Fantasy
Publication dateNovember 2015 – present
No. of issues26
Main character(s)Maika Halfwolf
Master Ren
The Monster
Corvin D'Oro
Creative team
Created byMarjorie Liu & Sana Takeda
Written byMarjorie Liu
Artist(s)Sana Takeda
Letterer(s)Rus Wooton
Editor(s)Jennifer M. Smith
Collected editions
1. AwakeningISBN 9781632157096
2. The BloodISBN 9781534300415
3. HavenISBN 9781534306912
4. The ChosenISBN 9781534313361

Monstress is an epic fantasy comics series written by Marjorie Liu and drawn by Sana Takeda, published since 2015 by the American publisher Image Comics.

The comic was described by the Los Angeles Review of Books as "ambitious as George R. R. Martin or J. R. R. Tolkien" for its high fantasy concepts and heavy world-building.[1] The series has earned many awards, including five Eisner Awards and four Hugo Awards.


The series is set in a matriarchal world inspired by early 20th century Asia, and tells the story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage girl who shares a mysterious psychic link with a powerful monster.[2][3] The background to the story is a war between the Arcanics, magical creatures who sometimes can pass for human, and the Cumaea, an order of sorceresses who consume Arcanics to fuel their power. Maika is an Arcanic who looks human, and who is set on learning about and avenging her dead mother. Maika's left arm has been severed and a demon occasionally emerges from its stub.[4] The demon, who takes over her body and mind, is a source of great power, but challenging for Maika to understand and control.[3]

Liu first introduced the story to Takeda in 2013. The two started working together a year later, and the first issue was published in November 2015; the trade paperback first volume in July 2016 and second in July 2017[4], the third in September 2018[5], and the fourth in September 2019[6].

Publication history[edit]

Liu has said that she struggled with depression before writing Monstress. She had taken a hiatus from writing before returning to the industry with Image Comics.[7]

She has described the comic as "a huge epic fantasy." As such, the story required world-building. The first issue was triple-sized (70 pages) in order to properly introduce the various characters and factions.[7]

Liu and Takeda first worked together on Liu's run of X-23 for Marvel. Liu would later describe her work with Takeda as "a wonderful process; it felt like she was reading my mind." A native of Japan, Takeda's art takes inspiration from manga.[7]


Liu at a 2019 signing for Monstress #24 at Midtown Comics in Manhattan

According to Liu, among the series's themes are the inner strength required to withstand constant dehumanization, as well as the power of friendship among women.[8] Race also plays a large role in the series. In the graphic novel the Arcanics, a race of magical creatures, have been at war with humans for decades, and they are now at a stalemate; however the humans are taking Arcanics and selling them as slaves to other humans.[8]


The first, triple-sized issue of Monstress received critical praise. Writing for Kotaku, Evan Narcisse called it "a gorgeous comic book about racism, war and slavery", noting the intricate detail of Takeda's manga-inspired art.[9] Reviewing the book for The A.V. Club, Caitlin Rosberg described the leading characters, all women, as "deeply flawed and showing layers of nuanced characterization that you don’t often see in comic books", and appreciated the series's "sense of in-between-ness—(...) neither traditionally Western nor manga, paced like a novel but drawn like a comic".[10]


Award Year Category Nominee Result
British Fantasy Award 2017[11] Best Comic / Graphic Novel Monstress – Volume 1: Awakening Won
2018[12] Best Comic / Graphic Novel Monstress – Volume 2: The Blood Won
Best Artist Sana Takeda Nominated
Eisner Awards 2016[13] Best Writer Marjorie Liu Nominated
Best New Series Monstress Nominated
2017[14] Best Publication for Teens (ages 13–17) Monstress Nominated
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art) Sana Takeda Nominated
Best Cover Artist Sana Takeda Nominated
2018[15] Best Continuing Series Monstress Won
Best Publication for Teens (ages 13–17) Monstress Won
Best Writer Marjorie Liu Won
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art) Sana Takeda Won
Best Cover Artist Sana Takeda Won
Harvey Awards 2018[16] Book of the Year Award Monstress Won
Hugo Awards 2017[17] Best Graphic Story Monstress – Volume 1: Awakening Won
2018[18] Best Graphic Story Monstress – Volume 2: The Blood Won
Best Professional Artist Sana Takeda Won
2019[19] Best Graphic Story Monstress – Volume 3: Haven Won

Collected editions[edit]

Title Material collected Publication date Format ISBN
Monstress – Volume 1: Awakening[20] Monstress #1–6 July 13, 2016 Trade paperback 9781632157096
Monstress – Volume 2: The Blood[21] Monstress #7–12 July 5, 2017 9781534300415
Monstress – Volume 3: Haven[22] Monstress #13–18 September 5, 2018 9781534306912
Monstress – Volume 4: The Chosen[23] Monstress #19–24 September 25, 2019 9781534313361
Monstress – Book One[24] Monstress #1–18 July 3, 2019 Hardcover 9781534312326


  1. ^ Song, Min Hyoung. "Monsters Come Home: On Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda's "Monstress"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  2. ^ Liu, Marjorie. "Marjorie Liu". Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b Cruz, Lenika. "Marjorie Liu on the Road to Making 'Monstress'". The Atlantic. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b Kelts, Roland (19 March 2017). "Breaking the comic book glass ceiling". The Japan Times. Retrieved 25 January 2018.image
  5. ^ "Monstress, Vol. 3 TP". Image Comics. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  6. ^ "Monstress, Vol. 4 TP". Image Comics. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  7. ^ a b c Cruz, Lenika (2017-09-14). "Marjorie Liu on the Road to Making 'Monstress'". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  8. ^ a b McMillan, Graeme (3 November 2015). "'Monstress': Inside The Fantasy Comic About Race, Feminism And The Monster Within". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  9. ^ Narcisse, Evan (23 November 2015). "Monstress Is A Gorgeous Comic Book About Racism, War and Slavery". Kotaku. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  10. ^ Rosberg, Caitlin (10 November 2015). "Monstress captivates with its fusion of Western comics and manga". A.V. Club. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Announcing the 2017 British Fantasy Award Winners". Tor. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  12. ^ "British Fantasy Society, British Fantasy Awards 2018". British Fantasy Society. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  13. ^ "2016 Eisner Award Winners (Full List)". Newsarama. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  14. ^ "2017 Eisner Awards Winners (Full List)". Newsarama. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  15. ^ "2018 Eisner Awards Nominations". Newsarama. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  16. ^ "2018 Winners - The Harvey Awards". Harvey Awards. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  17. ^ "MONSTRESS Wins 2017 HUGO AWARD". Newsarama. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  18. ^ "2018 Hugo Award Winners". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  19. ^ "2019 Hugo Award Winners". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  20. ^ "Monstress, Vol. 1 TP".
  21. ^ "Monstress, Vol. 2 TP".
  22. ^ "Monstress, Vol. 3 TP".
  23. ^ "Monstress, Vol. 4 TP".
  24. ^ "Monstress, Book One HC".

External links[edit]