Mythspace – “Space Opera. Pinoy Style.”
Myths are a crucial part of people’s cultural identity. Mythspace takes those stories and turns them on their head. Perhaps taking a page from Ancient Aliens, Mythspace purports that the creatures of Filipino folklore weren’t monsters at all but extraterrestrials instead. At least, that is what Ambrosio’s Lola believes, much to his amusement or chagrin.
Mythspace is an anthology of short stories that reimagines classic Filipino legends as beings from space. Every story is written by Paolo Chikiamco and they are illustrated by a whole host of talented artists in black and white. Each story focuses on creative world-building to help set a foundation that cements the various space-faring species of Mythspace and the political landscape of the galaxy. Volume 1 is published by VISPRINT, INC. and Studio Salimbal.
Lift Off is Mythspace’s first story, illustrated by Koi Carreon. It encompasses three chapters, revolving around Ambrosio, or Bros for short. Ambrosio is an orphaned kid raised by his grandmother. His parents are missing, allegedly “abducted by aliens.” Bros’s fascination with Filipino folklore was influenced and emboldened by stories from his Lola. When his Lola died, he was forced to fend for himself against busybodies who ridiculed his family. Eventually leading to Bros caught in a crossfire between space bounty hunters and their would-be prey. A ranger-like Kapre, Jrakan Fel45038 tried to intervene on behalf of Ambrosio but failed. He then encountered Qu, a Nuno, and Va-Lis-Ya, a Manananggal. They were hunting down a Tikbalang named Winter-Ice-Thawing, and, as fate would have it, snagged themselves an Earth human as a bonus. These events gave Bros a rude awakening – monsters are real and they come from beyond the skies. The story continues with imprisonment, betrayal, escape, and catharsis as Bros comes to terms that his Lola was right all along.
As a kickoff story, Lift Off was solid. Bros acts as the blank slate that the readers could project themselves into. I find it interesting how he can be a parallel on today’s generation, shifting from wide-eyed optimism to gritty cynicism. His lack of faith in humanity forced him to become street smart, which proved quite useful in space. My personal gripe is that Ambrosio fits the typical broody teenager archetype that accompanies many modern coming-of-age stories. I would have preferred him to lighten up when he found out his childhood stories were real. His brashness was further accentuated when he came across an ancient artifact of unknown power from the Lewenri, an ancient alien race not unlike the Protheans of Mass Effect. His dour attitude was, thankfully, balanced out by the rest of his motley crew.
Jrakan and his fellow Kapre protected Earth and who knows how many more planets from extraterrestrial excursions. With cigar in mouth, he’s usually calm and collected, but prone to outbursts when things don’t go according to plan. Winter belongs to a species of shapeshifters, the Tyho, and his tribe, the Tblng, prefers the familiar form of a half-horse/half man. He prides himself on his strict code of honor but that makes him no calf in a fight. Va-Lis-Ya looks like a manananggal but is, in fact, a Tan’Gal, humanoid symbiotic organisms with the ability to separate body parts at will. Always sarcastic, the only thing that drives her more than money is revenge. Their personalities bounce off each other and result in interesting dialogue.
Koi Carreon’s art matches well with the story and the world. The facial expressions he drew on the characters capture and convey emotions perfectly. His backgrounds are detailed and his actions scenes are very kinetic, although it does become hard to follow at times. The line art is clean and the utilizes creative paneling. However, the frequent use of speedlines and some of the heavy use of black ink and screentones can make some scenes seem a little dizzying and crowded.