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Monstress #5

Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild

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The next volume in the best-selling Eisner, Hugo, Harvey & British Fantasy Award winning series by MARJORIE LIU and SANA TAKEDA!

There's no turning back from the long dreaded war between the Federation and Arcanics - a massive human army gathers, ready to destroy the frontier city of Ravenna and enslave its inhabitants. Maika must decide whether to finally embrace her destructive power in the hopes that it can protect her friends - but what will be the consequences of no longer fighting her hunger? Will the repercussions be too much to bear?

Collects MONSTRESS issues #25-30

176 pages, Paperback

First published September 29, 2020

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About the author

Marjorie M. Liu

274 books3,886 followers
New York Times bestselling and award-winning writer Marjorie Liu is best known for her fiction and comic books. She teaches comic book writing at MIT, and she leads a class on Popular Fiction at the Voices of Our Nation (VONA) workshop.

Ms. Liu is a highly celebrated comic book writer. Her extensive work with Marvel includes the bestselling Dark Wolverine series, NYX: No Way Home, X-23, and Black Widow: The Name of the Rose. She received national media attention for Astonishing X-Men, which featured the gay wedding of X-Man Northstar and was subsequently nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding media images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Ms. Liu also wrote the story for the animated film, Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher, which was produced by Marvel, Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan) Inc., and Madhouse Inc.

Her newest work is MONSTRESS, an original, creator-owned comic book series with Japanese artist (and X-23 collaborator) Sana Takeda. Published by Image in Fall 2015, MONSTRESS is set in an alternate, matriarchal 1920’s Asia and follows a girl’s struggle to survive the trauma of war. With a cast of girls and monsters and set against a richly imagined aesthetic of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS #1 debuted to critical praise. The Hollywood Reporter remarked that the longer than typical first issue was “world-building on a scale rare in mainstream comics.”

Ms. Liu is also the author of more than 19 novels, most notably the urban fantasy series, Hunter Kiss, and the paranormal romance series, Dirk & Steele. Her novels have also been bestsellers on USA Today, which described Liu “as imaginative as she is prolific.” Her critically praised fiction has twice received the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, for THE MORTAL BONE (Hunter Kiss #6), and TIGER EYE (Dirk & Steele #1). TIGER EYE was the basis for a bestselling paranormal romance video game called Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box.

Liu has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, MTV, and been profiled in the Wall Street Journal.com, Hollywood Reporter, and USA Today. She is a frequent lecturer and guest speaker, appearing on panels at San Diego Comic Con, the Tokyo Literary Festival, the New York Times Public Lecture series, Geeks Out; and the Asian American Writers Workshop. Her work has been published internationally, including Germany, France, Japan, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

Ms. Liu was born in Philadelphia, and has lived in numerous cities in the Midwest and Beijing. Prior to writing full-time, she was a lawyer. She currently resides in Boston.

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5 stars
2,289 (47%)
4 stars
1,964 (40%)
3 stars
535 (11%)
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8 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 607 reviews
Profile Image for Trish.
1,915 reviews3,402 followers
February 28, 2021
Unfortunately, I only found the time to read this 5th volume today. Fortunately, it was as great as the other ones.

The city of Ravenna is to be taken by the human military (Federation). Thanks to the cowardice of the city leaders, the people (Arcanics) are on their own and nothing but slavery, mutilation and eventual death awaits them. Until the Halfwolf, Kippa and Corvin arrive.
The rest of this story revolves around flashbacks to six years ago and how Zinn awoke/melted with Maika as well as the events in and around Ravenna that show highly interesting character dynamics.

It was interesting seeing Maika progress and at least partially accept the darker part of herself. However, I was a bit surprised that the supposed revelation of the last volume (her meeting her father) was only addressed once. Well, never fear: we soon find out why and it's ... not entirely a surprise but a delicious reveal. :)

Moreover, there were some strong lessons to be learned. Not pleasant ones, mind you, but necessary and true ones. About war and the nature of people (human and otherwise).

Some of the reveals regarding who is fighting for whom or what, were actually puzzling and made me hungry to finally have all the pieces fall into place. Mostly, we get a pretty good picture by now, but a few details are still missing (which I like).

As usual, the art was the heart around which the story was revolving around. Gorgeous, intricate and giving the afore-mentioned lessons even more of a kick:

I really love the incorporation of philosophy and that the author shows different approaches instead of just one. Which one each respective reader follows, is up to the individual.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
March 1, 2021
Catching up with Monstress is pretty cool. The previous big actions and the slow personal reveals are dovetailing nicely. Great artwork and more interesting tactics and strategies are at play here.

I should mention that it has gotten big. Very big. So many elder gods, wild, rage-filled races of humans, demi-humans, and demons joining and breaking sides until everyone suffers. War is hell.

Few comics go this far to illustrate that. This one does a truly gruesome job, giving us all the most horrible aspects of magic and technology in an excellently world-built universe. I'm so glad. :)

Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
December 10, 2020
I was looking at the 2020 Goodreads Awards just now as they roll out and saw that Monstress, Volume 5, was one of the top comics series volumes of the year, no surprise; it's been a winner/nominee of every world fantasy award for every volume along the way. I also noted that my review for the volume never got posted, is permanently lost, but never mind, I basically just have to repeat what everyone says about every single issue: 1) wth is going on in Marjorie Liu's story?! I'm basically lost, and 2) Sana Takeda's artwork is among the best in the history of comics, a blend of manga and horror and swirling dark historical fantasy. And, volume 6: Repeat.

So we have waited five volumes for the second war between the Federation and Arcanics, and it is still ramping up, eh. So in this volume we get a (useful, somewhat clarifying) flashback to the first war, and we learn how Maika lost her arm, there's a lot of blood spilled in the war, as one might expect. Though not without the cuteness: Kippa, the little fox companion of Maika. It's that blend of cute and bloody and profane and gorgeous that makes for this series' peculiar identity, seems to me. And no one--I defy you to say you know all of the factions and history--really knows what is going on. It's about the perils of war within a kind of coming-of-age story.

No one ever smiles in this series, it is so intense, passionate. . . . and super violent, and taking the lead in the violent category is the elegantly coifed heroine Maika.
Profile Image for Mara.
1,555 reviews3,753 followers
December 3, 2020
Whew, guys, things are getting real for Maika & the gang! I'm loving seeing Kippa come into her own more, as well as getting more insight with what's happening with the Baroness. I'm on the edge of my seat in terms of where this leaves off- can't wait to see what happens next
Profile Image for may ➹.
480 reviews1,937 followers
September 3, 2021
I finally finished a book after 2 weeks of reading slump misery please clap!!!!!

this was probably one of my favorite volumes so far, it felt extra sad and brutal to read but I really loved all the insight into Maika and Kippa it gave!
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,621 reviews239 followers
August 5, 2021
We are back in Constantine, briefly... at the beginning of each chapter. Finally we are being told what really happened six years ago, in very small doses.


Back to present day: War is about to break out! The siege of a city looms in the distance. There is quite a lot of bloodshed eventually and some gruesome scenes.

Maika shows her true colours and does what needs to be done. Consequences be damned. However, she is barely there through large stretches of this volume.

Chapter #27 has a very pretty cover!


Several good scenes with Kippa. Ominous! And the ending of that chapter was... a flashback? Very strange.

The witches are pretty and creepy. I like how these sister-soldiers are drawn and coloured. Quite a lot happens in chapter #28. Not everything is immediately clear and it feels a little rushed after all the slow build-up of the previous three chapters.

Kippa as central figure on the cover of chapter #29 is fitting — she is the one making this volume shine. The artwork of the flashback to Constantine at the beginning of this chapter is outstanding, with really great panels.

My favourite is probably the flashback at the start of chapter #30 — nice! Our characters are coming full circle... A great scene, very emotionally powerful. And great artwork.

The plot thickens! Some interesting revelations in the last chapter. We keep on going...


I realize that I am not really talking about the story itself or the ongoing struggles of our characters. But I really do not want to give anything away. If you‘re a fan, you know the broad strokes and themes anyway. And if you are new to this series, go away and read the first volume! :-)

- Edwin Starr, War (what is it good for)

Collects MONSTRESS issues #25-30
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,936 reviews159 followers
August 31, 2021
The fifth volume of the superb series is an exciting one. The top-notch dark fantasy story by Marjorie Liu has a better plot than many fantasy novels. The art is simply gorgeous.

Maia Halfwolf fights on behalf of the Arcanics at the Battle of Ravenna. The story also fills us in on the background of Maia and Zinn. As the sides are drawn up, it seems like the entire world will be engulfed in war. But, even among the myriad sides, there are divisions. While this was a very exciting and enlightening volume, I must say I am left with a lot of questions. Thus, I am now eagerly awaiting the next volume of this superb series.

Do you like a quality dark fantasy world? Do you appreciate superb artwork? How about a unique world quite unlike anything I've seen before? Then this is the series for you. Someday this entire series should come in a nice HC and I would gladly replace my softcovers with that. A series like this deserves such a compendium.
October 20, 2020
This volume promised war so I was really looking forward to action. Instead, I got the usual confusion of too many characters who look alike and too much text in some panels. Aaaand the war only started but the plot didn't move much it seems.
There were retrospectives to show the previous war in which Maika became what we know her for so that was nice but her reunion with her bestie is long due and still not near enough. I still read this series because it has the best frickin' artwork I've seen in a comic but it might not be enough in the end for me to continue. We will see.
Profile Image for Craig.
4,984 reviews116 followers
November 6, 2021
Another excellent volume in this sprawling epic-fantasy series. It's amazing how Liu manages to expand the focus and setting through a rich and varied world at war, while keeping the individual characters evolving and changing through the events they themselves experience; it's quite a balancing act, especially in the verbiage-limited sequential art format... and the art is as luxuriant and captivating as ever. It's a story that has to be read in sequence from the start, but it's well worth it.
Profile Image for Ashley.
800 reviews441 followers
November 17, 2020
Star Rating: —> 5 Stars

Holy Sh*t... & I didn't think there COULD be any higher stakes. The art was exceptionally beautiful as always... the progression of the storyline was impeccable & incredibly paced...

This was just everything I wanted going into this & way more.


100% recommend this series & this volume!
Profile Image for Sahitya.
1,031 reviews206 followers
October 11, 2020
Whatever be my feelings about the actual story of this series, I’m always excited for the new volume just to be able to finally see more of the gorgeous artwork, and it didn’t disappoint as always. However, I somehow enjoyed the story more too this time around. We get to know a lot about how Maika lost her arm in her childhood, what the hell is going on in Zinn��s head right now and how all the players are finally getting ready to fight the war. It was very interesting to see the strategies and attacks play out, especially with some amazing illustrations. I still can’t keep track of who is betraying whom but I’ll get there someday. And Kippa will always be the best part of this series and I love her with all my heart.
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,120 reviews1,199 followers
January 4, 2021
I enjoyed this volume a lot, after feeling the series took a bit of a dip in volume 4. The Federation attack on Ravenna is an excellent set piece, which allows Maika to begin exercising some moral judgment and shows people seeming to begin to come together . Cool characters reappear, or are introduced . The end is just too sweet for words.

I’m pretty curious about this whole idea of a dynastic same-sex marriage. In this book, we learn that in this world two women can impregnate each other, which leads to all kinds of questions. Aside from the mechanics, does this mean that (given that women have only X chromosomes to contribute) the offspring will all be female? And given a matriarchal world where this is presumably preferred, might this explain (as there doesn’t seem to be any preference for keeping men at home, nor any comments to indicate it’s unusual when a man does have power) why there seem to be more women than men in this world? Perhaps it’s not simply narrative focus but also reflected in the demographics of the world itself. I’m interested to learn more, though rapidly losing patience with .

Overall, this is a really excellent series. As I’ve said about all the other volumes, there’s really lovely artwork, though a lot of blood and violence, and I really enjoy reading about a world full of women in positions of power. I look forward to the next installment!
Profile Image for Blake the Book Eater.
851 reviews375 followers
October 16, 2020
Every time I think this series can’t get better...it does. This volume kicks off with a whole ass war. We are truly in it now and it’s just as brutal and horrific as war is. Maika, Kippa, Zinn, Corvin...they’ve all come so far since the first volume and this truly feels like one of the great epics. This is going to be held as one of the best graphic novel/comics series ever made.
Profile Image for Sherry.
632 reviews63 followers
January 3, 2022
Gobsmackingly good!!! The action was epic! There was a scene in which Maika had been in a pretty bad situation but she just looked so badass. The art is so beautiful, even when depicting some not so beautiful things but it also conveys so much of the story, in a way that I haven’t experienced in other graphic novels. Admittedly, I haven’t read a ton of graphic novels but of the few I’ve read this series just stands out. We get more backstory of what happened in Constantine and a glimpse as to what happened to Maika and Zinn to create Maika as she is. There is also some excellent character and relationship development, especially in Maika and Kippa. Lots of interesting twists and turns that kept me totally engrossed. Looking forward to book 6 but I’m going to be sad to not have Maika, Kippa and Corvin in my daily reading life.
Profile Image for Marta.
994 reviews99 followers
October 26, 2020
Ok, so I am obsessed with this series. I was examining myself: what in goddess’s name is going on? This is horror, very dark themes, an indecipherable plot, gore, blood, hopelessness... yet, I lap it up. It is absolutely gorgeous, even behind the blood-splatter on every page. It respects my intelligence: while it is hard to follow, I enjoy that my brain is sent to work, wondering what this or that clue might mean, how this piece fits into the puzzle... I have started taking notes on characters, lineages, political alliances, which I had to reference for this volume - it helps. And I enjoy that I get both a mental workout and a visual feast.

At this point in the series it is no surprise that we have a lot of blood and suffering, but this time we are at war and the gore quotient is even higher. Maika is coming to terms with her inner monster, and the fact that she needs to feed to survive... at the same time that she is capable of love, as she goes to great lengths to follow and support Kippa. There are also friends who are enemies and enemies who are friends... who can really tell? I love it that everyone is complex.

We also get to see the Warlord in her element as a warrior, which I enjoyed. Maika and Zinn are not just an uneasy alliance any more, but find support in each other. Kippa faces tough choices and makes mistakes. We see Corvin as a brother who cares... and the baroness as a military leader.

Monstress just keeps going on strong. A year per issue is a long wait but I’d rather wait and have something this good than have 35 rushed issues full of filler. In the next year, while waiting for the next issue, I will be re-reading the 5 volumes so far. And I am not a re-reader — not normally.
Profile Image for Stella♡.
68 reviews54 followers
October 6, 2020
Δεν υπήρχαν πολλές εξελίξεις σε αυτόν τον τόμο, εξού και τα 3 αστεράκια✨
Profile Image for Nadja.
1,555 reviews62 followers
November 2, 2020
Let's stop talking about the art -it's gorgeous and mind-blowing as usual. These issues are heavy war-oriented and even more brutual than the previous volumes. Please be aware. Story wise we're not progressing as fast as I like.. I wished some reunions would finally happen.. Let's hope in the next one! Beforehand there's going to be some mini-stories which will bring us backstory to the characters. Finally we won't be as confused and get it all...maybe? :D

1000 Doors Readathon 2020: Door 1. Five.
Profile Image for Amanda.
597 reviews431 followers
December 13, 2020
A bit darker and more gory than usual, but there was a battle after all. I look forward to the next issue!
Profile Image for Chris Lemmerman.
Author 7 books94 followers
September 25, 2020
Last volume felt a little slower, since we were delving into Maika's history and her relationship with her father - this volume dials the momentum back up to eleven by having Maika and co. trapped in a city that's literally falling down around them, as the war against Arcanics kicks into high gear.

There are still revelations coming thick and fast, and it's nice to see side characters like Kippa, Corvin, and Master Ren take centre stage as necessary, while the flashbacks to Maika's past help form her decisions for the future.

And of course, Sana Takeda's artwork remains unparalleled. No one else could draw this book the way she can.

Monstress shows no sign of slowing down, and it'll drag us along with it, kicking and screaming if it has to.
Profile Image for Crystal Starr Light.
1,350 reviews819 followers
July 1, 2021

This was going to be 4-stars, a healthy rating, and I don't know, those end pages just really sealed the deal.

How did I read the first volume all those many moons ago and not see the brilliance of this series? Sure, it's been slow and complicated in places - sometimes too slow and too complicated - but at the end of the day, the characters and story are so compelling and go in places you didn't expect but are clever. And while I've never mentioned the art, it's so beautiful and intriguing; each character looks unique (except when I confuse Maika with her mom or aunt - given they are family, this is okay) and is memorable.

I have two regrets: one, that I didn't see the genius of this ages ago and two, that I have to wait until September for the next volume.
Profile Image for Jerrie.
986 reviews129 followers
October 31, 2020
I continue to enjoy this series. Stunning art as usual in this one. It has a dark, brutal storyline and keeps me rapt.
Profile Image for Manisha.
514 reviews86 followers
December 8, 2021
I'm probably repeating myself, but I'll probably continue to repeat myself by stating the obvious once again: the artwork is stunning.

I can't review any of these editions without mentioning for the fifth time, how amazing the artwork is. It brings life to the story, texture to the page and honestly, it's probably the best feature of this comic.

Now, onto the story.

It is as entertaining, dark and gruesome as ever. There are times I was confused because I couldn't remember the previous editions, but by doing a bit of research, I got back into it pretty quick.

P.S. - I still love Kippa the most.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 607 reviews

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