A Review of Mythspace: Liftoff
A review of Mythspace: Liftoff
The first thought I had after reading Mythspace: Liftoff was that it would be really cool to have the Mythspace komiks anthology come out weekly, just like in the old days when we had komiks anthologies like Funny Komiks and Bata Batuta Komiks sold at the newsstands every Friday. That’s just to say that I really enjoyed the copy of Mythspace: Liftoff that I got to read and can’t wait till 2013 when issue 1 is slated for release. In the meantime, issue zero is coming out this Komikon on October 27 so those of you who are going to be at Komikon, be sure to catch it then.
But first, what is Mythspace anyway? In a nutshell, it’s an anthology of comics all written by Paolo Chikiamco and illustrated by six different artists with the stories all set in the same Universe. The Big Idea here could be stated as: “what if the kapres, the manananggals, the aswangs, the dwendes and all the other supernatural creatures found in Philippine myth and folklore were real? And what if they weren’t supernatural but instead were actually alien in origin?”
And so, what we have in Mythspace are stories about dwende that ride giant robots and kapre that carry around large guns. The premise makes for a lot of fun world-building as writer Paolo Chikiamco explores the many facets of the series’ big idea and gives a science fiction-ey take on the creatures characteristics. For instance, Kapre, which in traditional tales have a fondness for smoking giant cigars have their characteristics tweaked quite a bit here. They’re an alien race whose members are able to inhale smoke in order to minimize the gas discharge from their guns. (I’m guessing the guns Kapre carry are what early earth natives have mistaken for cigars?)
The issue zero coming out on Komikon this Saturday is entitled Mythspace: Liftoff and is composed of Liftoff, a full 22-page story illustrated by Koi Carreon, Unfurling of Wings, a 9-page preview story illustrated by Borg Sinaban, as well as unlettered preview art coming from the four other artists.
The Liftoff story is a great introduction to the world of Mythspace as it’s mostly set in present day Philippines with a main character just now being introduced into the wider world of alien kapres for (technically) the first time. Here, that character is Ambrosio or Bros, a rebellious, teen Pinoy who grew up an orphan and had been raised only by his grandmother. As a kid, she explained to him that the absence of his parents was due to them having been kidnapped long ago by evil space dwendes. Upon growing up, he had dismissed these explanations as made-up tales of an eccentric old woman. But now, extraordinary things have suddenly happened to him and he begins to realize the greater truth about the Mythspace Universe.
(An aside: using Liftoff, as a title, is also quite apt, referring to the launch of the Mythspace komiks anthology as well as having in-story relevance to Chikiamco and Carreon’s comic.)
Koi Carreon’s art is amazing. As I was browsing through the pages the first time, it’s the character design that really stood out. There’s quite a bit of a manga influence in there but the human characters— from the lead character to the secondary characters (especially the secondary characters!)— all look quite Pinoy. In a story dealing with Pinoy myths, that goes a long way when it comes to adding to the overall effectiveness of the piece.
The plotting really works, going from flashback to present day without confusing the reader. The scenes picked enhance the drama of the story without crossing into melodrama. The rebellious teen who is our lead also doesn’t come close to crossing the line into being an unsympathetic character. Chikiamco also manages to provide his life history without sounding like it’s being done for the sake of dumping info onto the reader. In Liftoff as well as in the other stories, we get a sense that this is a fully realized world, with one element resonating with the next.
If I have anything to nitpick about Liftoff, they’d actually be pretty minor— say, questions about whether a character could skateboard successfully in a jungle— or simply nitpicks due to personal preference (The ending, for instance. Though it provides an insight as to the current mental state of the lead character, I’d have maybe preferred an ending with more of a cliffhanger feel to it. This is actually my exact thought when I read the last panel: Okay, I have a feeling this character is going to do something cool next issue… I just don’t have enough data in my head to begin picturing what that cool thing might be.)
The Unfurling of Wings preview is a tale about a teen manananggal, Ri-en, and her two friends, a genius human and a burly nuno, who work as thieves in a gigantic space station. Because it’s not set on earth and could possibly be set in some unspecified future time, it has something of a Batman Beyond feel to it. If I were to guess, at nine pages, Unfurling is likely just half the length of the actual story in issue 1. As such, there’s not much I can say about the story. We do get treated to the beginnings of a mystery or two, though. And as for the characters, though the story length and plot flow isn’t enough for them to be memorable yet, we do get the sense that they’re quite distinct and sympathetic enough.
Character design is pretty good as well here in Unfurling. I can imagine cosplayers someday wanting to cosplay the lead character, Ri-en, what with her kickass outfit, the manananggal wings on her back and another pair of smaller, Namor-like wings on her left forearm.The art is generally very good with clean lines and the rendering of the action pretty easy to follow. The faces Sinaban draws are also very expressive, giving us the sense that actual thoughts are going through the minds of these characters as they perform their actions. There were panels, though, when I would’ve preferred the inking make use of more dark areas in order to show depth and differentiate foreground and background elements. But as I said, the art is already very good.
Alright, so this review seems to have gone on a bit longer than I intended to, but to reiterate, do get Mythspace: Liftoff this coming Komikon. It’s really well-crafted, from the writing to the art, it’s got some ambitious science fiction, it’s an issue #0 but it’s not a mere sampler— you get a 50+ page book for just (AFAIK) 90 Pesos, and if you support this comic, it’ll maybe increase the chances of the Mythspace gang being able to make komiks of this calibre more frequently.