Thus begins The Book of Silent Sky, the first chapter of a warrior’s journey to a region named Nalada. The warrior, Silent Sky, encounters a demon called Yasharii who reveals a secret of the warrior’s past: He was once a butcher of men, hence he is not so unlike the demons he hunts. With an ashen sword the color of death, Silent Sky does not hesitate to dispatch the demons. The exchange has awoken memories for Silent Sky of when he was training with his master. But, that was a long time ago, and when the warrior arrives at the village of his master, he is disappointed by the apathy and weakness that has replaced the honor and strength that once inhabited the province.
In this 36-page original series, writer/artist M. A. Del Rosario blends fantasy, action/adventure, and demonic elements. In the afterword “Silence No More,” Del Rosario discusses the catalyst for his story arising from watching Legend of the Eight Samurai, a film based on a Japanese novel by Nanso Satomi Hakkenden. That interest was enhanced by fantasy literature he found featured in the films Ninja Scroll, Onmyoji, and Sword of the Stranger, not to mention Lone Wolf and Cub. He also notes that poetry – The Ramayana and Epic of Gilgamesh in particular – were sources for aspects of lore and mythological creatures. It is quite a pedigree of resources which Del Rosario adeptly leverages into a riveting well-paced first issue. The opening prologue has a beautiful cadence to the narrative, a quiet strength and a tone of philosophical wisdom. This leads into the fight sequence between Silent Sky and the demons, and it reads like a well-choreographed dance.
The visuals of The Book of Silent Sky brilliantly sets a tone that matches the narrative. Del Rosario’s use of bold brush strokes, thin black lines, whispered shadows and texturing, and stark white spaces heighten the epic nature of the story. In particular, the fighting sequences spotlight Del Rosario’s strength with composing each frame to showcase the motion of each character’s moves as they interact with each other. The tension is keen and biting. Additionally, Del Rosario’s lettering, speech bubbles, and sound art blend into the reader’s overall experience without drawing attention to itself.
Del Rosario mentions that The Book of Silent Sky has been percolating for several years, originally as a novel, but finally being shared in a comic book format. Reading through the pages, it becomes clear that this story is a labor of love because of his attention to detail. It took over twenty years, but thank goodness Del Rosario did not give up: Silent Sky’s journey is captivating and complex. Hopefully, Del Rosario will soon release issue two!
Creative Team: M. A. Del Rosario (writer/artist)
Publisher: Mark Aldwin Bitanga Del Rosario
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