The Dark Colony: Mikey Recio and the Secret of the Demon Dungeon (tan/guerrero/tapia) [alamat] [visprint]

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for waiting.

Mike Recio is your ordinary half-hipster (Trese-fan!) orphaned college kid, living with his rather eccentric grandfather who insists that he wear this medallion, practice swordfighting every day, and that Mike take him to this particular church every month (driving while saying the rosary the whole trip) for a special ceremony. Like any eighteen-year-old with some sort of life, Mike objects to all these old-fashioned ways. That is, until this particular Black Saturday, when he is suddenly thrust into a demon attack, and forcefully included into the secret lives of his relatives: the Recio clan are demon hunters.

Once again, the Alamat legends show us how it’s done. You have an interesting character, bored but intelligent and insightful, who doesn’t take everything at face value, therefore not belittling the intelligence of the readership. You have interesting supporting characters, and you give them enough airtime to show their personality and skills, and why the reader should care when bad things happen. You have a mysterious plot setup, one completely immersed in local folklore, but giving it a terrifying twist. You maintain a good pace through a great script, that first takes us through the plot, suspends the disbelief, then plunges you into the action with force. You top it all off with awesome, detailed line art, full of action and emotional movement, with some awe-inspiring one-pager panels. You know the adequate length you want, and defend it, and stick with it, and prove that you need all those pages by giving a great story. And this is just the first part.

As with most of the Alamat releases, the insight into the Filipino human is what makes this story memorable. The demon-slaying is all very nice, of course. But you remember it because of the strained interaction between Mike and his grandfather, the strain of the old against the new, then the realization, when push comes to shove, that minor irritations of life are minor and family will always be family with us Pinoys, something we will defend to the death.

This is what is so fun about the current indie age: you see the entire spectrum of komik creation currently in the country, and can enjoy it at all levels. Alamat, of course, as the forerunner, is at the top tier, breaking old walls and paving the way for the creators coming after them. They prove what more can be done with the komik genre. Through their work, they challenge what is now and what is still possible.

I am running out of things to say, and that is a compliment to such great work. It’s readily available at National Bookstore outlets. It’s definitely not for kids, so don’t make that mistake. But it’s a great addition to the Visprint line, and many will be waiting for the next installment.

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