Posted November 14, 2013 by Alvin Minon in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Mythspace: Unfurling of Wings

“Is there a colored version?”

That’s the first question I asked after I finished reading my latest review homework. One of the must-grab’s this Komikon 2013 is Mythspace: Unfurling of Wings. Sci-fi and folklore merge in this one-shot that’s not only visually wonderful but packs quite a punch story-wise as well.

Think of Star Trek, Star Wars and all the intergalactic sci-fi out there. Imagine Boba Fett, midi-chlorians, Klingons, Cylons and a bunch of other terms I could throw in that I’m guessing only hardcore geeks would understand. Now think of towering tikbalangs and kapres; manananggals that split their bodies in half; or mambabarangs that hex their victims and curse them with spirits and insects. Merge them together and that’s what Mythspace is about: an alchemy of space opera and Philippine folklore, of myths and science fiction. And it’s that exact thing they’ve done with Unfurling of Wings. This book has just the right blend that brought out not only the lightsaber geek in me but also my alter-ego that’s into legends and mythology.

The story’s quite easy to swallow. It’s a coming-of-age story about three friends from the slums of a space station. Ri-En’s a young female Tan’gal, a humanoid race with bat-like wings that grow as they get older; Zo of the humanoid race Nuno that’s apparently a former gang member and is described by Ri-En as “stupid big and hardcore brave”; And Books, the runaway intellectually gifted human slave whose name suits his prowess with anything technological. These three pull off a heist to save their deteriorating mentor Ka-Ang, which forces them to deal with the station’s infamous criminal gang and the immortal beings known as Sixths.

Paolo Chikiamco has brewed a world that’s vast and rich and could easily be explored and expanded if ever wanted. Here we have tattooed minotaurs, cyborg lackeys, space criminal gangs and symbiotic larvae. There’re races that look feral and there are those humanoid enough to look familiar, and those that either have names with apostrophes or the ones I have no idea how to pronounce. But these races are closer to home than most would imagine. Their looks, their physiology reflect the beings listed down in our galleries of aswangs. Even the names play around with ideas from our folklore: alien races such as Tan’gal (from tanggal or “remove”, akin to how mananaggals detach their torsos) and Nuno (also the term for our local version of fairies).

And it’s not just the setting and the elements that I found easy to attach to. The narrative’s pace is just right for a one-shot adventure material, having the proportion of mythos explanation and dialogues, action and drama. Chikiamco knows very well how to use the three-man unit setting familiar to teenage and young adult comics and other media. Each member of the trio has a personality that readers could easily relate to and backgrounds that give them substance but leaves behind enough space for deeper story.

But how could I say that such story loaded with geek terms and myth nerdtalk is easy to swallow and enjoy? That’s where Borg Sinaban‘s art steps in. He uses a contemporary style that’s soft on the eyes but is nowhere near complacent with the details. While the whole book is just in black and white, and given all the details put into the location and backgrounds, there’s that distinction between what’s in focus and which one just stepped right out. The young trio gets the look that steps right out of a cartoon series, giving that youthful and expressive feel while enemies and peculiar creatures get complex markings and elaborate garbs similar to movie vilains from some three-part epic or MMORPG dungeon bosses. And this style not only serves an aesthetic purpose, it also allows the characters to emanate their essence like the hooded Sixths the right off the bat smells like bad news, or that fully evolved Tan’gal that looks so cool yet menacing and demonic.

However, there are still a lot of things I could wish for. I think the turn towards the end somewhat needs more punch as it felt like there should have been more feeling of intensity or danger present during that part. The explanation page about Tan’gal physiology looks great but it lacked that feeling of antiquity or being a topic of old tales or scientific weight. It’s such a hassle but some otherworldly scripture could have been better than plain scribbles or wobbly lines. Sad to say but there are instances that a glance mistakes the page for being flat and plain. The comic could have used help from more gray tones or shades rather than sticking to just black and white with variation in line thickness. Whether that suggestion would rob the comic of it’s youthful feel, I’m not sure, but I do think it could have helped give depth and variation to those pages that needed more.

How I wish there’s already a sequel or a full series that I could look at, perhaps a copy for review or what. That’s the thing with one-shots, they make you feel excited then fulfilled once you finished the book, but in most cases, the reader will still be left yearning for more. There’s no colored version either! I’m certain the space community of the Tangent Space Station would look a lot more richer and wonderful in full spectrum.

The book will be available this Komikon 2013 for just 60php. That’s such a nice deal! And I’m saying it’s already jotted down in my bucket list of books to buy and things to wish for since Mythspace‘s universe’s really that interesting.


Alvin Minon