The Vow begins with something different for Monstress in the form of an interlude. Ravenna hasn’t fallen as intended, but remains under siege, while the invading forces turn their attention instead to ravaging the countryside and surrounding villages. Before Majorie Liu and Sana Takeda pick up where they left off with Warchild, we’re treated to two chapters of first Kippa, then Maika recalling their youth. There is a concern about this, because for all that she’s suffered, Kippa is the cutesy, big-eyed figure of sympathy, perhaps the only character pure of motive in the entire series. Will two continuous chapters of youngsters prove too saccharine? Thankfully not. The cuteness is slashed through with tragedy in both cases.

When the bigger story picks up again Liu continues to move the spotlight around the extensive cast. Warchild was largely restricted to the single location, but The Vow flits from place to place and drops one revelation after another. Among them is a new character, a relation of Maika’s in fact, and so far none of those who’ve been introduced have been trustworthy, so will this be any different?

As ever, Sana Takeda’s art is stunning. With every volume she seems to come up with a new way to impress. Last time round it was the horror of war, and here it’s two beings on a power level beyond anything so far seen in Monstress having at each other. However, just a standard page from Monstress is beautifully constructed. It’s presumably been noted elsewhere that happy characters aren’t a priority for Liu’s vast fantasy background, and Takeda delivers consistent melancholy and sadness.

There’s considerable progress to the overall plot here, a transformative moment that should affect everything going forward, and someone already shown as a monster taking a more direct hand in events as they start to disintegrate. There’s really no knowing where things are heading, but chaos and uncertainty are the order and certainty, and it doesn’t look good for Maika heading into Devourer.