komiks review: kapitan bayaran + filipino heroes league + mythspace: lift-off + kung paano ako naging leading lady

Kapitan Bayaran

Story by Joanne Cesario

Art by Michelle Bacabac
Albert wakes up one day and discovers he can read minds. He decides to make a business out of it.

The premise intrigued me so much that it was the first comic book I picked up at the Komikon Indie Tiangge.  I loved it. Seamless storyboarding, with art that fits the story’s tone. The humor is matter-of-fact and good-natured, with an air of – dare I say it? – innocence? Like how young boys talk to each other: everything matters but nothing matters, because it will all turn out for the better. The creators found a beautiful heartwarming way to close the story, so effective that the final panels made me smile, nostalgic for UP and college and that time in your life when all you need to be happy is to be able to go back home after a grueling semester.

(Oh my God, I am getting old.)

Filipino Heroes League (Book 1: Sticks and Stones)

Story and Art by Paolo Fabregas

Under-manned and under-funded, the Filipino Heroes League does what it can to fight against injustice.

It’s tough being a super hero but it’s even tougher being a third-world super hero.

I am late to the party. At the time FHL came out, I think, I was busy following Trese’s exploits, and I (unfairly) judged and dismissed this book because the title and cover irritated me in a way empty platitudes like “The Filipino Spirit Is Waterproof” irritates me.

I can be a lazy book buyer, because if only I had flipped the book and had seen this image –

– I would have picked it up in a heartbeat.

Like Budjette Tan, as he mentioned in his introduction, Paolo Fabregas had me at PEDICAB.

It was tough getting past the opening pages because it showed the World Trade Center and the Islamic Defenders (as villain) and I had so much conflicting emotions that I had to put it down.

When I picked it up again and read how the local news anchor put more weight on the exploits of Bomb Boy, a Filipino superhero who “made it big” by being the sidekick (not even a hero – just the sidekick that gets thrown like a discus) of an American superhero, I appreciated what the comics creator is trying to do with FHL’s silly, heightened reality. It’s funny because it’s sad. It’s sad because it’s true. The fascination with showbiz, supers going abroad to earn more money, earning money so your relatives can spend it on frivolous things (I feel you Kidlat Kit, haha), living DIY-style (not even the cutesy DIY, it’s the we-have-no-money-so-we-have-no-choice DIY), graft and corruption – it’s the Pinoy reality, and it is presented here in an entertaining, effective way.

Looking forward to Book 2.

(Check out these preview pages for Book 1 if you want a sampler.)

Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady

Story by Carlo Vergara

Art by Elmer Cantada

I don’t want to talk too much about the story, because the joy of reading Vergara’s newest offering is in seeing how the story unfolds, how reality is juxtaposed with the fantastic. Even the back blurb is intentionally vague. Like in ZsaZsa Zaturnnah, the story is effective because it touches on something true: at some point in our lives, we have considered our siblings our own bitter competition. Who earns more money? Who has a “better” life? Who does Mother treasure more?

My only regret is failing to see this as a one-act play onstage.

Here have a sample page. Great, clean art by Cantada.

Mythspace: Lift-Off

Story by Paolo Chikiamco

Art by Koi Carreon

Kapre. Nuno. Manananggal.

They are monsters of the past, remnants of primitive fantasies.

UFOs. Aliens. Extraterrestrials.

They are hallucinations, creations of modern science fiction.

Or are they?

Evidence unearth is debunked…or disappears. Witnesses who speak are ridiculed…or silenced.

We are alone, say our leaders.

There are no Manananggal that consume our children. There are no Kapres who watch in the night.

There are no aliens that abduct our neighbors. There are no UFOs with dazzling lights.

We were never alone.

These are not your Lola’s monsters.

These are not your children’s aliens.

They are one and the same. They are here.

What else can you say about the monsters of Philippine folklore? How else to make their tales fresh, push the envelope, how else to make them exciting? Paolo Chikiamco asked this questions (maybe?) and came up with the perfect answer: bring the aswang to space. The premise opens up so many possibilities, injecting a truly Filipino spirit to the Western tropes of the space opera.

This is cliche, but: Mythspace is a triumph of the imagination. (Translation: I am envious, Pao! Why didn’t I think of this???)

Great art by Koi Carreon.

Waking the Dead by Yvette Tan

Twisted 9 by Jessica Zafra

All’s Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie Peria

Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano

Mythspace by Paolo Chikiamco and Koi Carreon

fled their faces turned by Christian Tablazon

Now, Then, and Elsewhen by Nikki Alfar

Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra

Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra

Naermyth by Karen Francisco

Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 8 by various authors

The Best of PSF (2005-2010) by various authors

Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 1 by various authors

Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 3 by various authors

How to Traverse Terra Incognita by Dean Francis Alfar

Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata by Ricky Lee

Save the Cake by Stella Torres

The Real Score by Kesh Tanglao

Vintage Love by Agay Lllanera

Drone by Allan Popa

The Filipino Heroes League by Paolo Fabregas

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