Kalayaan 5-12 (gio paredes) [gmp comics]

I made an author rather happy last road-to-GTMACC when I snatched up the 8 issues after the compiled four, after some deep breathing, computing, looking into a wallet, and jumping. I did say I was now invested in the story.

After spending some time fighting evil sea monsters with Lapu-lapu in a dream state, John dela Vega is rescued from his suicide attempt by the Calalang siblings, and half-reluctantly he continues the Kalayaan project. In the course of staying alive, he learns more about himself, and a whole sub-arc is spent on him reuniting with an old girlfriend, one he may decide to drop everything for. He meets several new allies, and also fights with himself (as manifested in an alter-ego villain), besides the usual way of fighting with himself. He slowly learns that, well, life is lived, and he is on the earth for a job only he can do. That freedom is a state of being, constantly worked at, and not just a name.

The series thus continues less about the otherworldly bad guys every superhero has to face, and more about John dela Vega, just done on a superhuman scale. This may make the series boring to people used to the usual superhero comics, but to a person who prefers character development ALONG with a story, this is really nice. Several issues are actually spent with John NOT turning into any superhero or doing any superhero thing, just him being very, very human for one ordinary woman with big problems. I loved it that his biggest decisions are NOT the ones that save the country, just the ones that help one person.

I also appreciated the point that John is such a nice guy that even his alter-ego is a defender of justice and right (albeit in a twisted way). This is done without making him perfect, for he is far from it. Rather it drives home the point that for all his shortcomings his heart is totally in the right place, nearly all the time.

Gio Paredes has improved in the output of the series over the course of its releases, as well. How he humbly asked and received help for panels clearly beyond his capabilities is appreciated, and results overall in a work that is more evenly made and better presented. The grammar-editing by friends is also appreciated. Yet he does this without losing control of his concepts and ideas, which leads to a coherent product even with all the artist friends helping. The paneling has greatly improved through the issues, and the sense of story and pacing has improved in bounds.

We need a TV series about this material already, and it may even get a following. In the meantime, keep following the adventures of this imperfect superhero with a kind heart, and encourage the author who has helped fight to keep the komiks industry alive.

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