The ‘Verse komiks (hontiveros / various artists) [alamat]

I’ll be the first to be highly scared of reviewing the Alamat releases, because, you know, Alamat is legend, in name and in reputation. You have to admire all the work this pioneer group is doing to further advance the indie age, to a point where it is nationally accepted. You also admire how the group chooses to remain true to its roots, by continuing to release indies in the standard format they helped to establish.

Similar to Mythspace, the ‘Verse is a set of stories all written by David Hontiveros, but rendered by various artists. Each one builds on the other, such that it’s rather helpful to get all of them to fully understand the overall story.

Life is split into two worlds, the diabul (where angels and demons reside), and the oikoumene (where humans live). Life is good when these planes don’t meet, but they often do, sometimes with disastrous effects. It is the job of a select few, half-breeds, immortals, or dimension-crossers, to keep both planes intact, to keep the characters in each plane from causing trouble in the other.

The individual comics deal with specific characters between the worlds, and how each one deals with their unique problems.

Agyu 1 and 2 (illustrated by Vinnie Pacleb) — Elias Sandoval is a fighter, for the diabul (as the legendary Agyu) and the oikoumene (as the legendary MMA fighter E-rex). He can do so because he is half-enkanto. This makes him recognized by both planes, but accepted by neither. This gives the story of his origins and how he has tried to cope with his dual life since. The art and its pacing and paneling are incredible, demanding attention at each page, moving the story along well. There are a few points where the coordination between the script and the art falters, but this is rare. There are also some points when the direction the story takes gets confusing, as it shuttles back and forth from past to present. But generally it’s a solid piece, and makes you feel the pain the character goes through.

Kadasig 1 (illustrated by Ian Sta. Maria) — This is the release I missed last November, as it was gone by the time I arrived. Kadasig is from the Skyworld series, and as an immortal arbiter of the world he sometimes fights in its battles. In this case the Agyu Elias takes in a being more than he can handle alone, so Kadasig steps up to intervene before things get really ugly for both planes. The drop-dead-gorgeous Sta. Maria art is totally here, highly detailed and awesomely inked through and through. There are several pages of conversation where the speech balloons get too cramped, in order to fit all of the dialogue. There are also some pages where the heavy inking and detail work feels like an information overload to me, but this is a minor complaint which others may not find to be a problem. It’s totally worth your time. More Kadasig is always worth your time.

Tatsulok: A Vision of Dust 1 and 2 (illustrated by Xerx Javier) — Involved in this world of two planes are many half-breeds, including Lucio Portador (a half-demon) and Miguel Samson (a half-angel), who live in the oikoumene world but have skills from the diabul world. Normally they are on opposite sides, but both of them have a joint interest in the succubus Lora, who is escaping from her and Lucio’s otherworldly boss. The printing is a little weaker compared to the other two releases. The art is classic in its presentation and paneling, which is not a bad thing, for in the detail work and in the backgrounds it shows the strengths of that style to awesome effect. The snarky and sarcastic banter between the three main characters moves the story along with a great pace. This has the most straightforward thus most understandable story among the three releases.

The world-building notes and the author notes present in all the releases are interesting, yet they also feel somewhat like too much information. Some of them are also hard to follow after a while. That said, they do give better insight into the stories and the inspirations behind the worlds.

Overall they are fine releases by legendary komikeros, putting their best feet forward with a story and script that best delivers their strengths. All are worth your time and investment. It definitely shows you why the Alamat group is the stuff of legend, and why they will stay that way as the indie age marches on.

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