4 / 5 – Recommended Reading
I am very big on trying different books from wherever I can find them so I have a bias in favor of books that I might not find at my local comic store. This volume is the fifth digest in the series following Alexandra Trese, a special consultant to the Filipino police regarding magic and mythical creatures. A mash-up of the Jim Butcher character Harry Dresden (The Dresden Files books) with a bit more of the temperament of Constantine. We have traditional Filipino legends coming to life in the modern city. The listed credits are story by Budjette Tan and art by Kajo Baldisimo packaged in a nice little black and white digest.
Alexandra Trese discovers a new vigilante in town is more than he appears. Once a second giant vigilante defeats the first vigilante, she has to unwind the threads to discover who is behind the plots and how can she stop them. This volume leans a bit on the detective story revealing shifting factions (you will see how clever my word play is after you read it) playing against each other rooting in the different types of ancient beings. There is some humor present, namely in the characters of Trese’s assistants and not much horror in this volume. However there is killing and death but it is not excessively gory. If this book was color, it may be a different story. The art does an excellent job rendering faces and expressions. In addition to humans we have half horse/half man demons and giants. I am no expert on manga but the action sequences have a manga feel to me. All in all, an excellent package featuring setting unfamiliar to me.
Of course, one of its strengths to me, the unfamiliar setting, is also a potential hurdle to being absorbed into this world. The book is in English but the different Filipino creatures are referred to by their names, hence the half horse / half men demon creatures are merely called Tikbalang. The person that sent me this book was kind enough to give me a brief glossary typed up on a sheet of paper stuffed in the front. For example it lists the name “Higante” and a quick definition “Giant.” Many of these can be derived from the context of the story. I did not feel I was missing anything despite my lack of familiarity with the language and culture. Fortunately they have a blog up where you can look at some of the art and story before deciding to order: http://tresekomix.blogspot.com/ At the risk of evangelizing, I do recommend people try things out of their normal course to enrich their comic experience.
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