It’s impossible to be part of the local komiks scene without having heard of Boy Bakal at some point or other. Yet any quick perusal of an issue will make you think twice, even thrice, about getting it. But the insanely-warm reception of the many komikeros could no longer be ignored, surely they see something in this series that I don’t. Since all 5 known issues had available copies at GTMACC, the marathon was finally done.
First of all be warned that the Boy Bakal series (as well as Pinoy Totoy Pi-totoy, and unlike Stick-Boy) is definitely NSFW in its jokes in many places, making no apologies for it.
The series recounts the adventures of Rayan Keen, a very smart and enterprising young man who runs a small junk shop. In a mad attempt to get free of a crazy gay dude, Rayan rapidly welds up an steel-bound costume and saves the day. From there Rayan improves on his design, does several more good deeds, defeats more insane baddies sent forth by this Armando guy or otherwise. He quickly gains the reputation as Boy Bakal.
There is no denying that the art for this series is some of the more amateurish around. However careful observation of the comics in any point makes you notice that the art is actually better than its first impression, with sufficient detail in key points and good awareness of correct character presentation.
One important thing sets this apart from any newbies: pacing. This author knows what he is doing, always, and knows how to best present it. The pacing for this series rarely missteps. Therefore there are very few mistakes here that newbies tend to make. The chapters are generally scripted well with snarky very-Pinoy dialogue. There are no over-cramped dialogue balloons. The paneling always makes sense. The action is always understandable. The characters are immediately likeable and distinct (even if Mahya tends to be stereotypical). Typesetting for the work is almost-always spell-checked correctly and layout-ed well. It is this solid hold on pacing that the komikeros have noticed very quickly, and has made this series a fan favorite over the last few years.
Technicals aside, it is simply fun to see how the author addresses the problems a Pinoy superhero on a budget and living in a Class C-D environment has to deal with. Need regular source of metal? Hero owns a junk shop and had engineering sense. Why go for complicated solutions to dealing with baddies when simple ones will do? And why tire yourself out when the taong-bayan can finish the job of beating baddies to a pulp for you? Boy Bakal is everything IronMan is not, and he is awesome that way.
Overall, don’t be fooled by the general look of the series. It is amateur, but one of the better examples of good comic-ing. It is funny and definitely Pinoy through and through. Keep an open green mind, and enjoy the ride.