Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Every Legend Hides a Lie

"My father once told me about a city on the other side of the sky. Gods watch over us from there."
- Makabo, Skyworld: Apocrypha

So I've picked up a copy of another local graphic novel at the last Manila International Book Fair. Entitled Skyworld, it is a two-volume story which uses elements based on Philippine mythology and folklore. I only keep coming across one volume or the other, so I just had to pick both up when I saw them at one of the booths. I digress though, so back to this pseudo-review.

Unfortunately, this is not going to be without bias. I guess I've been spoiled by an earlier, similar work - Arnold Arre's Mythology Class. There are so many comparisons that could be made, given the similar subject matter, and Arre's work set the bar extremely high.

Skyworld tells the story of an alternate version of Manila under siege from otherworldly creatures and the world's reaction to the threat. It is told from multiple perspectives - a tikbalang seeking vengeance for his father's murder at the hands of the primary antagonist, an orphan-turned-savior in the tired trope of chosen bloodlines, as well as memories and flashbacks that give further background to the millenia-long secret wars.

One thing I've noticed is that there are some inconsistencies with the story's flow. Sometimes the story is told at a frenetic pace and it's easy to lose track of whatever is happening. There are times when I'd flip pages back and forth to check if I missed any, only to be confused by how some plot points came about. On the other hand, there are points where one can see the small details stand out. This is easily seen during retellings of some real historical events crossed with some fantasy elements.

In any case, I would commend Skyworld's creators for its attempt to incorporate Philippine folklore into a contemporary medium. While it feels like some parts could have used a bit more polish, the work in its entirety is not something to be scoffed at - it is ambitious, engaging and more often than not, left me wishing there was more.

The artwork certainly looks pretty solid and is comparable to the more popular titles floating around. After all, the cover art is the first thing one would see, and it's definitely eye-catching.

Graphic novels by local artists are few and far in between. Make sure to grab a copy of Skyworld - it's definitely an interesting read.

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