Sunday, January 19, 2014

Book Review: Skyworld Vol.1

SKYWORLD VOL. 1: The plot is all over the place

The first volume of Skyworld includes Book One: Apocrypha and Book Two: Testament. It interweaves the stories of Makabo, a Tikbalang prince, Kaptan, a fallen Skygod, and Rianka, the Queen of the Asuang. In the middle of their struggles is Andoy, a crippled orphan who turns out to be the fulfilment of a prophecy.

The first thing that has captured my attention is the writing voice and the storytelling. They have striking similarities to that of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. This is obvious literally from the first page, the opening spiel.

How the words are used, the scenes portrayed, and presentation of branching plot points in the volume, have Sandman all over their faces. Really, it is not a problem if Sandman has been an influence in the work, but the work could have been better if it has tried using its own style. Budjette Tan’s Trese has its resemblance in Sandman too, but at least it has developed its own style.

And since the Sandman is written in a way that is both orderly and scattered, Skyworld also utilizes this principle. Book One: Apocrypha introduces Andoy, tells the back-story and struggles of Makabo, and establishes the conflict between Rianka and Kaptan. And then just leaves me there without any pay-offs. It gives me an impression that the creators are trying to create an epic, but I think the plot points are not solid enough to serve as the pillars of such a story, not to mention that their establishing and concluding are rather premature.

But Book Two: Testament somehow redeems the volume. The incorporation of historical data, such that of Lapu-lapu, in the Skyworld story/mythos has been an interesting touch. And how the mythos thickens because of the Maharlika and the Amulet is also nicely done.

But Book Two: Testament also has its problems. Like its predecessor, it suffers from premature rising and falling of conflict. This is particularly obvious in how Rianka has plotted to awaken Bakunawa once again. It appears to be too abrupt, as if it has been a desperate attempt to a climax. This part is not all bad however. I like how Alexandra Trese and the Kambal have been featured in it.

As for the art style -- okay, before that, let me say it again for new readers: My comic book reviews focus on the storytelling, and I give little attention to the art -- As for the art style, it is very detailed, and it has successfully utilized black and white through plays in shadows. There are also pictures that are not suitable for the younger audience.

Overall, I have mixed feelings for Skyworld Vol. 1. What I really like about it is its attempt to utilize characters and stories from local mythology, and adds a twist in them to create its own unique tale. And what I don’t like about it is that everything feels to be premature. I know that the creators have a ton of ideas for this project, and I think that the project would have been way better if these ideas are presented smoother. The scattered storytelling has also been ineffective because of the lack of pages to tell the story. Really, everything in this volume could have been expanded to more books, and not just two.

Additional Note: I’m also reviewing Trese comics. You can find the review of the first volume here. You can navigate through there to see the other volumes.

Related posts:
           Book Review: Skyworld Vol. 2

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