Prince Eric, Jani, and Sapok are in Abraria, resting and restocking on supplies for the continuing journey. But the powerful mage Patro has stolen many human souls and awakened Samal, a strong demon with the ability to possess humans. The only people who even have a chance to stop Patro’s damage in Abraria may be just these three, plus Yeyen, Samal’s guard-mage.
These are the 2006-2008 material, just a little before Mel’s successes at the Komikons. The raw-ness is still visible in the written-in speech balloons and the occasional uneven illustrations. But in this set, you see the rising quality of his comic art, and you cannot help but be beyond impressed. The set is filled with action scenes and panels that are rendered wonderfully with high detail and the feeling of high-impact motion. Many of these scenes, of course, were clearly derived from the way manga does these things. Yet the way they are utilized in the series is beyond imitation, but are signs of an excellent artist still experimenting with his craft.
Also visible are Mel’s improvements as a storyteller, for the pacing in this set is much better, and laying-down of information is spread gradually across the chapters. Patro properly comes out as dangerous and crafty. Sapok’s cheerfulness and friendliness while hiding secrets is better presented. Jani’s strengths in battle are highlighted, along with a family history. Eric’s fighting skill combined with humility is expressed very well.
Mukat is still most likeable because it is what it is: the work of a developing artist, pouring heart and soul and craft into something he totally believes in. It’s fun because it suddenly tangents into local comedy, into in-joking (surely the Sherwin of Abraria person, Sapok’s ‘besprenz!’ is a classmate in real life?), into info-dumping, then dips into action, into being YuYu Hakusho (Ghost Fighter), then Pokemon, then well-thought fantasy, then something else. All of this without losing the course of the main story, and continuing to show character development. It won’t work in this current stage of Mel’s comicking career, knowing what he already knows and having improved his craft so much since then, now that he knows better control. But it was awesome and totally fun back when it was written. Because he had fun, so do we.
Overall, we continue to see the artist’s journey in this series, and you continue to be impressed at how Mel Casipit kept pushing himself to improve through the years. As a time capsule, and as itself, Mukat continues to be a key part of the new indie age, in its own cheerful happy way.