The entertainment industry has a problem: They run out of stories regularly, leading to sequels, reboots, prequels, and a rehashing of the same 'ol sh!% over and over again. Funny thing is, if they looked beyond a white male centric view, maybe they'd find a whole slew of interesting ideas and stories that are interesting, as well as novel to their audience. The success of Black Panther and Get Out certainly recommend that deeper stories from outside a certain experience are craved by the entire audience, and not just parts of it. That's what makes it so infuriating that creators who have a unique, non-European perspective have to work so hard to "break through" and get stories based on their history and worldview into the public eye. The Chuas have created a wonderful collaboration to bring Philippine-based stories to life with Doorkeeper, a graphic novel that reveals that we sometimes make our biggest decisions in our lives when we're not looking to.
The Doorkeeper itself is a celestial being, much like the Watchers from the Marvel universe who sit outside the timestream and witness the passage of mortal lives without interfering. As we all know, no celestial being can stay outside forever, so we are gifted with several stories where the Doorkeeper steps into a moment in time to allow those with a choice that will change their destinies, as well as the destinies of countless others, to have the knowledge that this choice is the fulcrum upon which their lives balance. It's the gift of prescience to have knowledge beyond time and your abilities. The excellent tension of the stories, however, is much like that of the Oracle in The Matrix; the answers that people are given may not represent precisely what they want to achieve. There's a complex weaving of this theme throughout the myriad tales, and it finds a home for the reader at the same time it does for the characters in the final story. It's a well-wrought through-line that works wonderfully.
There are a LOT of illustrators involved in this process, so I don't really have a definitive opinion on the art style as a whole. I can say that I enjoyed that each chapter takes place in a different time period, and that makes the stylistic changes more helpful when you're bouncing between them. I don't really have a favorite; I think all of the artists make their stories feel alive in similar ways, and in the unusual circumstance where characters make repeat appearances, it serves to accentuate the idea of time being rigid and mutable at the same time.
I really enjoyed venturing into this story, and fans of large and complex mythologies will have a lot to like here, as well. I mentioned above that the stories coming from viewpoints outside of our own are unique to a Western audience, because we tend to tread the same Euro-centric worldview. The reason that these stories can still affect us is that they're still the experience of humans, as we all ultimately are, and a change in perspective about realizing that your privileged existence isn't the only way that the human story as a whole is told...it can open your mind, heart, and will.
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Creative Team: Ethan Chua & Scott Lee Chua (Writers/Creators), Jap Mikel, Allen Geneta, Bianca Lesaca, Gia Dominique Duran, Brent Sabas, Bow Guerrero, Aaron Felizmenio, Borg Sinaban, Raymund Bermudez (Illustrators)
Publisher: Summit Publishing Co. Inc.
Click here to purchase.