Monstress vol 5 by Marjorie Liu
Vol 5: Warchild, illustrated by Sana Takeda
Maika’s bleeding heart gets her involved in a major battle between the Federation and the Arcanics at the city of Ravenna. It turns out, she is exactly the warrior that the city needs to quell the chaos and start organizing who can fight. Kippa is tasked with helping out with the city’s children, and her miscalculation leads to a terrible tragedy. The Cumaean witches reveal they have created six abominations, powerful magic users that they crafted into unquestioning warriors. The six wreck havoc on Ravenna. But, their presence is not all welcome. The leader of the Federation forces, someone Maika knows from her past, is not at all happy with how the witches created these warriors. Elsewhere, The Dawn Court's Warlord and her wife, the Baroness of the Dusk Court, make their own contributions to the battles of the Arcanics, and they vie for control from each other over the vast Dawn Court airship fleet.
I've been waiting over a year for this volume, and the wait was worth it. This volume pays off on some crucial storylines, and we learn a lot about Maika's past and what made her into the person she is today. Many of the various characters who have been searching for Maika are closing in, and the tension is palpable. Within the next volume, there is a high probability that these different warring factions will finally catch up with Maika, and I'm ready for those reveals. There is also a growing new mystery with Maika's father, providing more tension as other storylines meld together. Throughout the series, there have been plenty of LGBTQ+ relationships, and in this volume, we get a small hint that same-sex couples can conceive a child together, deepening the normalization of these relationships to the world Liu has built.
Takeda's award-winning illustrations are still a highlight of this series. I found myself often lost in the details on many pages of this volume, wondering just how much time it took to draw in the intricate backgrounds, fabrics, and objects.
Image rates this title as Mature, and if it was a movie, it would be Rated-R for the language alone. There are plenty of F-bombs throughout, and lots of other choice words. There is also a lot of violence and some pretty creepy corpses from having their life drained away by the witches. However, the stack of awards, rich storyline, and beautiful drawings makes this one a serious consideration for collection development.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 11-12
Reviews of previous volumes in this series: vols 1-4
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
ISBN: 9781534316614 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: High School, Comicbooks, Fantasy, Magic, LGBTQ+, Image Comics
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