rapid reviews

I apologize for the long delay in reviewing the stash from the GTMACC event. I do hope these help you make nice choices during the coming Winter Komikon 2012.

Pinoy Totoy Pi-Totoy (Carlo Valenzuela) [Bakal Komiks] – Comic geek Toto gets a chance to live out his dreams and become a superhero for a day against a kidnapping ring. He loves the thrill of it and wants more, gets a working costume and shield from Boy Bakal (who is, after all, a genius with a junk shop). If you’re used Carlo’s style from the Boy Bakal series, this is more of the same, and that is not a bad thing. It may turn redundant, though, if the author is not careful. Toto is unique enough from Rayan to be interesting in his own right, but again he threatens to be the same character with just a different name.

Alapaap (Carlo Valenzuela) [Haraya] — This is Carlo’s work as part of the Haraya group (in contrast to his solo work), so it seems to have input from friends. This results in a work different from his superhero-type stories, but recognizable enough. Gen Makotong is a confident kid aiming to get into the Alapaap gang, which protects others from evil gangs. His application is through a mission to rescue several kidnapped kids…but this particular mission should have been for a much higher-ranked application! Quite honestly it runs like a mix between your typical Pinoy action movie and your typical shonen anime, but this kind of thing is what Carlo Valenzuela is good at and it deserves its fans.

Weather-Weather Lang (Norby Ela) — Gerry Alanguilan seems to have liked this story a lot, and so did I. A freelance tutor and his young Korean student find themselves stuck with each other when the Ondoy flooding happens. As with ika-siyam’s work, what Norby’s art lacks in presentation it more than makes up for in pacing and awareness of story. The piece leaves you hoping the best about your fellow Pinoy, and dreams of peaceful co-existence between us and our immigrants, without one looking down at the other.

Prologue (Norby Ela) — A kid goes up on the roof of his apartment as a superhero, then goes down to find his parents gunned down without mercy. He lives without hope after that and faces a meteor head-on, but then rises from the direct hit as a superhero for real. The paneling is a little messier than in Weather-Weather Lang, but once you make sense of it, the wordless story is delivered well through the visuals, giving its emotional impact in all the right places. The art and the control of it is much better than in that earlier work, so it is true what the others have noticed, that Norby Ela keeps improving with each new release. This is the prologue for a story that hopefully makes it debut in the near future, watch out for when that happens.

Escape (Ray Magbanua / Cristina Chua) [Revel Circle] — The two albino children of a privileged family have had enough of their boring lives and decide to do something about it. The ending is both surprising and expected, given the good development of the characters and the presentation of their individual predicaments in well-chosen stark panels. The art style is adorable without losing the seriousness of the material. The pacing is excellent, slowly rising to its ending without losing the warmth of the whole piece.

Pagliacci the Undertaker (J.Castillo) [inferalkrusher factory] — Pagliacci is a dark clown crimefighter, if such a thing was possible. It is indeed possible here, and the way he is presented is highly convincing. The contrast is well played between the man’s angsty demeanor with serious swiftness, and his clown suit with its implications. The art style is very capable, but the art tends to be rather messy in its action scenes. It is worth the look, but needs some adjustments.

RAWR: Rise against a world rewritten (Jkim Valdez/Rexcy Ricablanca) [Komikult] — A barkada decides to open several lockers that the school urban legend declares should stay closed. They cause most of hell to break loose, giving one power/being each to the boys involved. It is unapologetically manga-style in its presentation, but that said the art is really done well with great paneling all throughout. The speed lines are executed well. The inking is really good. Overall this is one of the stronger releases of this group and should be encouraged to continue.

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