Here’s the thing. The novels I intended for the next review deal with super-heavy themes. The first book alone took me three months to finish, and I admit it was a difficult read. Who knows when I’ll finish the other two — they’re all thick, mind-boggling, and time-intensive.
To decompress, I needed easy reading material with familiar characters and fresh stories. The answer: comics and graphic novels.
I’ve done this before with The Sandman series, Watchmen, Sin City, Calvin & Hobbes, and other popular titles in ’90s and ’00s. Recent awesome reads include the Saga series, these Filipino-made komiks, and Sex Criminals. I love that comics and graphic novels showcase darker, more varied, and unconventional stories. I’m not a fan of the usual Marvel/DC fare, and the smaller word count and gorgeous artwork keep me coming back.
For today’s bulk review, I’ll talk about two beloved local series and an acclaimed international franchise. Trese Book 6: High Tide at Midnight, Mythspace Volume 1, and Fables: The Deluxe Edition Book One are connected in several ways — and work on making sure that the story continues.
Welcome to the new age
The most obvious similarity between these series is that the they take known myths into modern times. It’s always fun to see major deviations from generations-old tales, and how the characters adapt to present and future times.
Trese 6 continues the story of Alexandra Trese (the Guardian of Manila) and her supernatural sidekicks, the Kambal. And like the prior books, High Tide at Midnight deftly combines present-day Manila and the creatures hiding in plain sight.
For this installment, Tan and Baldisimo abandon the usual case-of-the-week format (similar to single-arc Books 3 and 5) and take readers from land to water. The villainous taga-dagat regularly pop pills (called Shift) that give them the desired capabilities of previously established supernaturals like the aswang and tikbalang. Add the bloodlust that comes with the increase in physical size, power, and influence, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for trouble.
Mythspace — through six short stories by Paolo Chikiamco, illustrated in black and white by six different artists — brings feared Filipino supernaturals like the tikbalang, aswang, and kapre where they’ve never been before: outer space. Hello, Pinoy-style space opera! (We’re not alone, all right.) This new series gives us spaceships, inter-species conflict, and even the destruction of an entire planet and race. #harsh
Fables brings popular bedtime-story mainstays and puts them all in two places, with a common predicament. Evicted from their Homelands by The Adversary, they must now fight back while keeping their true selves hidden from us humans (or “mundies”). In this Giant Fairy-Tale Mashup, there is no Happily Ever After, and not everything is resolved within a few pages.
If Fables‘ overarching theme sounds familiar, remember this: the series is (or OK, may be) the inspiration behind popular TV shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time.