Review: Aporia #1-7 (Mangaholix)

For reference: Official Mangaholix site for Aporia (Hasn’t been updated in a while though.)

Created by: Kevin Libranda
Writer, Artist and Inker: Kevin Libranda
Colorist: Cristina Chua
Letterer: Jon Zamar

I’m a sucker for stories that take Philippine folklore as a launching point for a setting, especially when the anitos are anthromorphized to an extent (i.e. given culture and individuality, not just used as monsters of the month). I liked the way the kapres all have different types of ears, since ears are one of the indicators of status in Aporia.

The art is very distinctive, with a unique style (i think it has something to do with the facial shape.) This works for the most part very well (although Apo on the cover of #7 seemed a bit too angular for my tastes). The coloring, as with the other Mangaholix titles, is vibrant and excellent. Panel design is generally good. I had some trouble at the end of #6 though, when Sierra stumbles upon Banahaw and the other two children. I thought one of those children was Sierra.

The story is evidently to be of epic proportions, as is usual in a setup involving deities and multiple conflicting races. It starts off well, the pacing in #1 establishing the main characters succinctly before getting the ball rolling by booting Apo out of the underworld.

Afterward however, things get too complex, too quickly in my opinion. Where at the start you had the Apo plot-line and the Underworld plot-line, there is a sudden influx of characters and suddenly we have, by my count in #7, eight plotlines (Apo, Ara, Sierra, Taal, Muusan, Mayon, and the redhooded lady with Mariposa whose name escapes me), many of which intertwine, then separate, and each of which raise mysteries/questions of their own. As a reader I found it all a bit confusing, and its hard to give any of these arcs the proper attention/advancement in around 12 pages per issue.

Pacing issues aside however, the characters do appear to have quite a bit of depth, and the writer does a good job of making sure that none of them come across as purely ‘good’ or ‘evil’ for very long – ironically, at this point it almost seems like the character with the lowest appearances-to-charaterization ratio is, well, Apo. (I don’t have #6 with me right now, but… did he react at all to his hair being cut? After building up its importance to a slave, I would have thought there would be quite the eruption after.)

Aporia is still an enjoyable read for me, given the setting and good characterization. I just hope that the numerous plot lines can be consolidated in the future, so more time can be devoted to each.

That’s it for Aporia. I’ll put up the Midknighters review tomorrow. Don’t forget that Komikon 2009 Summer Fiesta is tomorrow!


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