Geek Reads

Geek Reads

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trese Book 3: Mass Murders - Philippine Graphic Fiction

To say that I was expecting a good read from my continued foray into the supernatural world of Alexandra Trese & her ghoul-fighting righthand Twins is an understatement. In fact, it was an awesome read!

Expecting another series of paranormal vignettes stitched together with creative storyline by Budjette Tan & sharp depictive drawings by Koji Baldisimo plus the promise of more clues & hints to questions that loyal readers have wanted to be answered were just some of the expectations that greeted me when I started book 3.  But when I saw that it opens with a murder & in walks Anton Trese into the scene with our heroine, I knew that this was not just another book to be added onto the series, but rather was the beginning of a history lesson; one that should not be hurried.

At first seeing Anton Trese alive with no preamble whatsoever, it initially got me confused but having trusted the material so far, I owed myself as a reader to be led into the journey. We immediately pick up that this is a prequel and see that Alexandra has always been into the family business. And at 16 she had promise & held her own supernatural ground when enemies come knocking. But in the course of the reading, Alexandra along with her father uncovered the presence of the Bukidnon god of war, Talugbusao, connected in a series of murders. 

On top of that she must take care of its accursed progeny & face 3 trials to prove her worth as a champion, being the 6th child of the Trese line.
I don’t want to say a lot and give too much detail about the plot but let me just go out on a limb and say that Budjette has certainly brilliantly and cohesively weaved a tale that brings everything full circle in this 3rd book and like my favorite Tv show, Charmed, their 3rd season, as well as Book 3 of Trese provides the best writing of the series so far.

 With much care, not to mention creativity, in presenting Alexandra Trese both as a new player in the supernatural community and one who doesn’t shirk away from responsibility, I hope that Budjette has fully accepted that his responsibility to us the readers is to continue to give us amazing Trese adventures with each book outing while celebrating the culture that is ours; that is Filipino. Fans of the Kambal will have a lot to cheer about in this one. I know I did! (And loudly too while reading).

More power Budjette and Kajo. May you always be inspired to equally inspire us all. If you love art, it will love you back.

Now off to…….and with Book 4 in tow. J

Monday, October 24, 2011

Trese Book 2: Unreported Murders - Philippine Graphic Fiction

Equally as good as the 1st one, the second TRESE book continues the supernatural adventures of paranormal consultant & investigator, Alexandra Trese & her magical gun-wielding & flying righthand men, The Twins.

Focusing more & utilizing the appearance of elemental forces than the plethora of philippine mythological beings, the collection has Aswangs, Tiyanaks & zombies to keep you busy while keeping the suspense & mystery surrounding Trese with lotsa hints about who her father is & was in the supernatural underground community.

Book 2 also has a lot of crafty re-naming & association to real life urban legends like the Robinsons mall creature that abducts ladies in their dressing room or the evil conglomerate of a power company that require sacrifice for usage.

All in all this 2nd is another great read but like me I suggest you start from the first & work your way to the more recent book. Coz thats how good ideas are, like seeds of a tree in book 1 they are introduced & planted. It grows beautifully into Book 2 & now as I write this has blossomed to fruition in Book 3 & has grown into an orchard in Book 4.

So watcha waiting for, go get hooked on Trese. Coz if I had my way, I wanna be dressed as one of the Twins this Halloween 2011. As a bonus and on your right is a sample of a recent cosplay of Alexandra Trese by Bianca King. :)

Ok off to start Book 3 now, with Book 4, the current & recently released on stand by in my room...

Ps. End of the book has sample art by my faves Oliver Pulumbarit, Carlo Vergara, Ian. Sta Maria, Reirand Santos and Reno Maniquis. So go and get your copy now...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trese- Book 1 - Filipino Urban Fantasy Graphic Novel

Kept seeing this at National Bookstore then and admittedly when another author spoke extensively about this did I try picking it up and loved it!

Combining urban fantasy and Philippine folklore, this graphic novel is a series of stories about Alexandra Trese, our Philippine equivalent, to Kolchak and Fox Mulder. But the cool thing about her is that she's got two magical twins as her right hand men and doesn't bat an eyelash at the different magical creatures and circumstances that she gets herself involved in whenever the police call in on her for help on things, paranormal.

So far Book 4 has been released and it's no surprise why I already have Book 2 on stanby for my weekend reading.

Celebrate our being Filipino. Remember our own folklore and mythology and read this. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Utopia- Dark Avengers & Dark X-men

The vision or dream of Utopia itself apart from a fleeting one, is truly ambitious. But to collect several issues of Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-men in the hopes of establishing coherence in one continuous read is definitely no easy feat either.
This graphic novel collects Uncanny X-men #513-#514; Dark Avengers #7-8; Dark X-Men The Beginning: #1-3; X-Men Legacy #226-#227; Dark X-men: The Confession and material from Dark Reign: The Cabal.  This collection released last year 2010 and written by Matt Fraction brings together the 2 most popular superhero teams of the Marvel universe, namely The Avengers and The X-men. But for uninitiated readers who will dive into this seeking current and updated clarification, they may be confused as the heroes they knew have taken not only a dive but a 180 degree turn.
Here’s the lowdown.
At this point in the story, the Avengers have disassembled and Tony Stark, aka. Iron Man has been deposed from leading the Avengers following his debacle in handling events concerning the Skrull infiltration of superheroes in the Marvel event, Secret Invasion, which if I may add was brilliantly conceived by Brian Bendis. The current hero of this tale ironically became Norman Osborn, aka. Green Goblin. Yes, the Spider Man villain killed the Skrull Queen and became a hero. Fast forward, he now leads the Avengers and is the darling of the US govt in all things “mutant”. To this he has re-shaped the Avengers and used the symbolism that our heroes represent and warped it into his own. In replacement of Iron Man, he took Stark technology, crafted himself an armor and calls himself Iron Patriot. He then hired Daredevil nemesis, Bullseye, and had him become Hawkeye. Venom was recruited to take the place of Peter Parker, aka. Spider Man while Daken, Wolverine’s son became the adamantium wielding hero and Dr. Karla Sofen who has the powers of flight, intangibility and energy blasts, became Ms. Marvel. Add to this roster the presence of the godlike superhero but psychotic Sentry and Ares the God of War and you have the New Avengers.
Onto our favorite Mutants this time, Scott Summers aka. Cyclops is now the leader of the X-men with Storm now based in Wakanda and living the life of queen and wife to Black Panther. Former villainess and now teacher, Emma Frost, aka. The White Queen is now with the X-men and  2nd in command in addition to being current love of Cyclops’s life. Unfortunately Beast and Professor Charles Xavier have been captured by Osborn and is currently being forced to take part in an experiment to drain mutants of their powers to feed his other team member of the Dark Avengers, Michael Pointer, aka. Weapon Omega. The experiment is funded by Osborn and headed by (don’t hold your breath), Beast or should I say Dark Beast as he is an evil Dr. McCoy from another timeline. (now scratch your head and say, Huh?)
Our compilation opens with riots in San Francisco being led by Simon Trask. Yes, we remember him from Sentinel days of early X-men and has been causing a lot of anti-mutant sentiment around the area. Cyclops although trying his best to contain the incident by having other X-men members take care of it has not been successful and was branded as “incapable” by the media to govern and police mutantkind. On top of that Osborn has just come in from New York, in line with the rumors that San Francisco is about to be “federalized”. Needless to say Osborn has his Dark Avengers in tow and is encroaching upon X-men territory. The clash between two teams ensues as it is unavoidable and leads to both betrayal and deception on Emma Frost’s part to form her own team of X-men to handle the rising threat of anti-mutant sentiment and superhero withdrawal from the populace.
With the X-men team divided and Osborn’s Dark Avengers looking united and certainly a force to be reckoned, how can resolution be achieved? Of course, with utmost planning and some trust along the way.
My friend lent me this compilation and promised me all out action. Indeed I was and am happy for it. Just like my other favorite Marvel event, Siege, this compilation was indeed energy blasting-knuckle punch action all the way, with more intricate power playing and secret hiding along the way for proper garnishing. Not everything is what it seems in his story and although you would applaud Scott Summers’ plan after reading, you may just applaud Emma Frost’s nerve and will as well when you get to the end. Betrayal is trust, is certainly a operative word phrase in this storyline.
But alas the Utopia storyline itself is only a little half into the entire book and others are more side stories that we never got to see or as other readers complained, need not see as it was pointless and didn’t really drive the narrative forward. True, the back stories about the X-men villain, Mimic, and how he got drafted to join Osborne as well as Raven Darkholme, aka. Mystique, plus Cloak and Dagger as well as Daken and how Emma convinced Namor to join her cause as the ace up her sleeve may be well and good and certainly gives readers a deeper look. But frankly I never liked Namor and so skipped his story. Don’t necessarily see the bond that he and Emma have, much less the “he smells like fish” reference in Cabal is equally off putting for me. Would you sleep with a superhero who smells like that? LOL!

Ok digressing but all in all it was an ok read. I still rank Civil War, Secret Invasion and Siege as my favorite all time Marvel crisis stories and hoping for a good one when the current Fear Itself storyline is compiled. Here’s to a good attempt Matt Fraction but here’s to more Brian Bendis for me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Brightest Day Vol 3 - Is it really Bright?

One review that I read prior to finishing the 3rd and last volume of Brightest Day asked the question that I also found myself asking at the end of it all, was that, “Was it needed?”

If we go by the Lantern Oath and pick up on the beat of Geoff Johns thinking, then perhaps yes. Because after Blackest Night, something should follow suit, and true to Oath form of the Green Lantern Corps, Brightest Day does follow. But does it make sense? Does it strike a chord in the characters, much less the readers?

It did when I first finished Blackest Night, which by the way was a tour de force in itself. From storyline to the artwork, the pacing of the panelling and how the entire arc of the story affected the entire DC universe. It was brilliant. And having the creative lightning strike hard and strike gold, could it have been possible to do it a second time?

Picture this.

At the end of Blackest Night, several DC characters who were dead were brought back to life by the sentient living entity that was hidden underneath the Earth. It spoke of the path that follows the dark. And metaphorically, I do get it. That after the dark and having been touched by light, what do we do? After epiphanies of our own, being in the dark for some time before that, how do we deal with the consequences? Of course, we move forward, live our lives and go where the light takes us. But somehow, somewhere in the midst of my reading all 3 volumes, I was asking if I wanted to be taken there in the first place.

As opposed to the first crisis that involved dead superheroes becoming Black Lanterns and corrupting the living, Brightest Day doesn’t add much on that scale and narrows the “crisis” down to the resurrected characters and how their lives and choices affect the others in the DC universe. Vol. 3 continues the battle of Hawkman and Hawkgirl against her mother in beating out the life and death Prophecy cycle that they have been subjected to. Aquaman battles for his place in the underwater kingdom and mentoring the new Aqualad, who just happens to be the son of his nemesis, Black Manta. Not to mention dealing with Mera’s revelation that she came to Atlantis to kill him but not counted on falling in love with him. Firestorm for his part had to deal and reconcile that being fused into one as Ronal Raymond and Jason Rusch has its advantages and drawbacks while being transported to the Anti-Matter Universe. Martian Manhunter dealt with D’Kays treachery and deception while Deadman, had to face with how it is to live his life and discover love with Dove in the process. All of these lives and their subsequent choices are as the White Lantern reveals all part of the process.

But after the process itself was revealed, I felt for Deadman. He was duped and manipulated by the White Entity to push these returned heroes to live out their choices because they were being groomed to take part in another battle to come. And that was against the so called, Dark Avatar; a residue of Nekron’s influence on the Earth during the Blackest Night crisis.

When I read Blackest Night I felt that it could have been longer. I wanted more action scenes played out as it was indeed in the truest sense of the word a worldwide crisis. But after this Brightest Day “crisis” which spanned the whole year long before it was compiled and doled out in 3 increments, I felt that it could have been shortened. Was Geoff Johns like the White Entity manipulating and cashing in on readers to buy his latest effort? One would surely look at it that way. But from a creative side, one would argue that he had a story to tell.

And yes while I applaud the effort for a story, it could have been shortened and heightened with more kick ass action rather than the low key and philosophical implications that we are left with and only to be sparingly laced with action and manipulated mystery along the way. No doubt that I may yet get some gem of wisdom from reading all 3 of them again. But I like my superheroes, swinging, flying, shooting and beating the crap out of the bad guys. But with given that Life itself is the challenge to deal with this time, there really are no bad guys; just bad choices stemming from a different form of perception.

 And that perception itself may have come from a place of capitalism in order to cash in more profits for one’s coffers or the perception that if a story is stretched to the limit, it may make for a good yarn of a tale. And because it is such a yarn, consider me like the cat that buys in on that ball of yarn and brings it back to you, looks you in the face and with utmost hope, purrs, “What’s next, Geoff Johns?”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Who is Wonder Woman?

I think a politician was the one who said that, unless it gets my attention, it doesn’t get my vote. Now, our favorite Amazon Princess has always gotten my attention and my vote but I felt that it was just a vote that was naturally given. I mean, how could you not?
She is a compelling figure to look that. She is fierce, fearless, gorgeous and as per Batman, never fails to inspire and that puts her above the rest of all other superheroes. But for this compilation, the life of Wonder Woman that we all view as almost perfect as her form and figure is less than ideal. This compilation comes after the startling events in Infinite Crisis and follows the death of former Justice League member turned murderer, Maxwell Lord who saw his own demise at the hands of our Amazon as a result of mentally manipulating Superman to kill her. The world saw her then as a murderer and Diana had to retreat and go into self-imposed exile and let Donna Troy, then Wonder Girl take over for her as Wonder Woman.
In this compilation, Donna does the best that she can to fill in for Diana but finds herself up against former British archeologist, Dr. Barbara Minverva, aka, Cheetah; Dr. Doris Zeul, aka. Giganta; and the most power telepath, Dr. Psycho. Together they ganged up on Donna and almost left her for dead, although not quite while our own Diana, having been stripped of her title, goes undercover to work for the US Department of MetaHuman Affairs as Agent Diana Prince.  With this new assignment she adds the “title” of double agent to her superhero resume and had to work with Agent Tresser, aka. Nemesis, the Master of Disguises in search of the missing Wonder Woman who has not been seen since.
This search soon finds herself being allied with Hercules and facing the witch Circe who for a time being in this compilation relegated herself to being the new Wonder Woman; vengeful and unrelenting, after stripping Diana of her powers and capturing both Donna Troy and the new Wonder Girl, Cassandra Sandsmark. While being human has not dampened our Amazon’s spirit, it in a way has been the catalyst for her to move forward and be resourceful in unraveling a conspiracy between Hercules and Circe and later managed to get her powers back and once more become the Wonder Woman that we all love.
This was the Wonder Woman that I knew and this was the compilation that won me over once more. With brilliant and beautiful art drawn by Terry and Rachel Dodson and creative and paced writing by Allan Heinberg, this compilation attempted to answer the question we all asked ourselves. Who is Wonder Woman? To paraphrase the foreword by writer, Brian K. Vaughan, the iconic and elusive Amazonian was never that easy to understand, much less write about for she was full of contradictions? Diana Prince was a warrior at heart and yet loved peace. She also was a champion for women’s dignity and yet runs around wearing star-studded blue underpants while in spite of being a goddess possessing the gift of flight, still rides an invisible plane to get around. Truly a woman herself is already hard to understand and to add these contradicting elements into the mix, no wonder readers have yet to still scratch the surface about this iconic lady.
And given her icon status, layers upon layers have yet to be peeled off to understand her. And thus gives rise to the opportunity to always spin a new take on her story as it revolves around the people closest to her. From members of the Justice league, to her constituents as Ambassador of peace of Themyscara, to her fellow Amazonians, Donna and Cassie, her desire to be human and to explore this side of hers continues on promisingly after this compilation. This, for me, is human and goddess drama at its best. Next episode please.