Book: Bravos Manila and Bravos Cebu

"Bravos Manila/Cebu"

Superheroes are the norm in Studio Salimbal‘s two one-shots: Bravos Manila and Bravos Cebu. In it, celebrities have been replaced by tiers of super-powered individuals who are working to help innocents against… well… villains.

In Bravos Manila, a slacker hero named Kit Kamao finds himself in an impossible situation when he suddenly becomes the face of resistance against a giant dream-fueled monster. Meanwhile, Pedro Pilandok tries to recruit a new hero in the pages of Bravos Cebu.

Story-wise, both one-shots are awesome. I love this new superhero-filled world that the two comic books are establishing. But I found myself being drawn more into Bravos Cebu because of the art. It’s simple. Clean. Easy to understand.

The thing is, I think Bravos Cebu looks and feels simple because there isn’t a hundred and one things happening in every panel. I get that Bravos Manila is trying to set the tone of just how many heroes there are, but I thought it needed to scale down a little bit.

In the first few pages of Bravos Manila, I actually thought the whole world was filled with super-powered human beings. It wasn’t until later, when our hero tries to help kids that I realized there were non-powered beings as well.

That said, I do commend the artist for making the heroes not look a like. That’s a feat for someone who has to draw a thousand of them in every page. They all have personality, and you get a semblance of who they are or what they can do.

There’s just too many of them.

It does get better midway though, when we’re no longer scrambling through the peripheral heroes. Once the action sweeps our main protagonist up, the story and art becomes easier to follow.

And I really like how it ends.

I’m hoping though, that when the series Maharlika High does arrive, these two one-shots would still be canon. That they will actually have an impact on what happens in the series being set up.

Event: The Cast Comics at Indieket 2014!

"Cast, the Comics Issue 12"

Cast Comics is back! And they’re bringing a very special cover of the long-awaited twelfth issue of their series to this Saturday’s Indieket!

Why is this a big deal? Because this variant cover won’t be available in bookstores or comic shops. Oh, and because it’s drawn by Harvey Tolibao, a superstar artist who has already done for Marvel titles!

Aside from this rare variant cover of Cast #12, Nautilus Comics will also launch the reprint of Arnold Arre’s Trip to Tagaytay, one of the best graphic novels that became hard to find as the years went on. Well, you don’t have to look any further–just drop by this Saturday at Indieket, at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig!

But don’t limit yourselves to the Nautilus titles when you get there. Bring extra cash. Discover new works and new worlds at this year’s Indieket!

Book: Black Orchid

"Black Orchid"

In an anonymous corporate boardroom, a super-hero is shot through the head. Her body is consumed by flames, and her killer walks free.

So begins Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s BLACK ORCHID, one of comics’ most remarkable and transformative creations. Simultaneously a deconstruction and a resurrection of an entire genre, this tale of the uncanny lives of Susan Linden embodies the new maturity in graphic storytelling that revolutionized the medium at the turn of the millennium.

I didn’t have any expectations when I picked this title up. I didn’t even know who Black Orchid was. I’m a Marvel kid. I’m familiar with DC heroes, the popular ones, but I prefer my Marvel heroes. Hence, the reason why I didn’t know that Black Orchid was a heroine.

Truth be told, it was Neil Gaiman’s name that drew me to pick this up. And the promise of a very good story.

And it is. A very good story. No buts.

Black Orchid, the mini-series that Neil Gaiman wrote in the 80’s is an origin story for the little-known heroine. It tells her story as she tries to find out who she is, what she is, and she gets a little help from better known DC characters, heroes and villains alike.

It tells the story in such a way that it feels like a mystery to be solved. But it’s really not. I mean, it wasn’t to me. Black Orchid was who she was from the very first page.

The very first page she appears in, that is.

Our heroine goes on a journey to understand who she is, and what she is, and she takes us along for the ride. But this is not an origin story so much as it is a character study. Of a battered wife. Of a woman who longed to have a child. Of a broken woman who sought paradise…and found it. But what use is a paradise to a woman used to heartache?

Neil Gaiman, with Dave McKean’s art, tells a very powerful story about the importance of identity. Of knowing who we are, what we want to be, and where we want to go.

The book starts out with an introduction from a contributing editor of the Rolling Stones. He says people have issues with how the series ends, that they yearned for a fourth volume to properly finish the series. I don’t see why. The ending we get, the ending in the book, is beautiful as it is.

It doesn’t end with a bang, no. But it ends with a promise. And when you have a story this beautiful, what better way to end it than with a promise, right? That another story will blossom soon.

And it did. According to Wikipedia. I don’t like where it went though, so I’m going to end my journey with the Black Orchid here with Neil Gaiman’s story.

I’m going to end it with the hopeful promise for our protagonists.