Monday, May 5, 2014

An epic journey: Aaron Felizmenio's Minkowski Space Opera

An epic journey: Minkowski Space Opera
by rick olivares

Minkowski Space Opera was one of those books that stood out during the Summer Komikon. The title alone evoked those classic Japanese manga/anime in the vein of Stardust Memory and Fairy Navigator Runa looked and the use of watercolors made it stand out from the sea of mostly black and white fare of local indie creators.

Grandiose? Ambitious? But aren’t all epics?

I am somewhat of a sucker for watercolor art having loved J.M. DeMatteis’ and Jon J. Muth’s Moonshadow for Epic Comics and all of Kyle Baker’s works (from the comic book adaptation of the Dick Tracy film to the recent graphic novel, The Fifth Beatle). So I picked up Minkowski Space Opera. However, creator Aaron Felizmenio’s art style reminds me of Mike Grell whose works I have been collecting since I saw him on Legion of the Super-Heroes and followed all the way to Warlord, Starslayer, and Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters. And that was a huge part of what got me to pick up Minkowski Space Opera.

Minkowski Space Opera is a sci-fi/fantasy epic about loner named Randall who in a Hayao Miyazaki way (a nod to the classic Spirited Away) suddenly finds himself displaced from the modern world he knows into the fantastical world of Arcadia where science and magic co-exist. He befriends a warrior monk named Artus who pledges to help him find his way home.

Artus relates the tale of Aeon who frees a powerful celestial being called the Minokawa (that will remind you of Marvel’s Phoenix – the force of nature and not the Jean Grey character) from its prison in order to tap a fraction of its energies to save his beloved who is dying.

Randall suddenly finds himself mysteriously appearing in another part of Arcadia where he meets the mysterious Nathaniel who supposedly tells the truth about the Minokawa that is a devourer of worlds. Having feasted on all the world sin the solar system, the Minokawa met its match when it failed to consume the planet of Arcadia whose peoples used their collective will to imprison the being in a cage called “the panorama”. Now the being is free and is seeking to finally consume Arcadia.

There’s promise in Minkowski Space Opera that according to the author was loosely inspired by the Bagobo tale of the Bakunawa that consumed the sun hence the cause of eclipses. Felizmenio’s art is lush and gives life to Arcadia. He is young and can you imagine how good he could be when he gains further mastery of his already good illustration skills.

The dialogue though needs a little work as does certain parts of the story in order to move it along. The mash of science, mech, magic and fantasy is certainly challenging. If Felizmenio can pull this off it could pave the way for the fantasy genre in Philippine comic books that is currently dominated by mythology, horror, and Japanese comic book inspired stories.

Whether Randall is a modern-day Luke Skywalker who allows his imagination to run wild as a means of escape from boredom or is an unlikely hero who lands in the midst of a Narnia/Westeros-like land as its savior has yet to be established. And who is telling the truth – Artus or the mysterious Nathaniel? What is going on? Or should Randall be penning the next Lord of the Rings?

Minkowski Space Opera definitely bears following.


Notes: One of the cool things about Aaron Felizmenio’s Minkowski Space Opera is he includes a soundtrack that is available for free download online. It helps to listen to it while reading the comic.

The 40-page Minkowski Space Opera is now available at Comic Odyssey at Robinson's Galleria for P150 bucks.

With Aaron Felizmenio

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