Author: Budjette Tan
Illustrator: KaJo Baldisimo
Date of Publication: July 2008
Genre: Horror, Urban Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Source: Purchased Copy
Official Trese Blog
National Book Store
About the Graphic Novel:
When dusk arrives in the city of Manila, that's when you become the most likely prey of the criminal underworld.
Kidnappers and thieves will be the least of your worries.
Beware the criminals that can't be bound with handcuffs nor harmed with bullets.
Beware the ones that crave for your blood, those who hold your heart ransom, and the ones that come to steal your soul.
When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.
A unique, urban-fantasy graphic novel showcasing Filipino folklore and mythology, with a strong female protagonist at its helm!
This is the first book from the Trese series that I actually picked up. It's the first one I've read, so I read it without any expectations or preconceived notions. I wasn't without hesitations though...
When I first picked up this graphic novel, I was quite skeptical because of two reasons: one, I've read too many Japanese and Korean graphic novels (Manga and Manhwa) and I was afraid that the graphics I'd see would be a complete rip-off of Mangas and Manhwas; two, the cover is too beautiful (I'm a skewed person so my definition of beauty is a little different), and in my experience in scouting locally-published books, pretty covers are usually deceptive. Then again, I still picked up Trese because I've been ogling at it for months at the local book store. Hee.
Now, for the review proper...
A few parts of the art were reminiscent of old Filipino comics back in the days. I was an avid reader of Funny Comics back in the 90s. What I liked about the art in this graphic novel is that it was just like comics, but it wasn't. A little contradictory, I know. The thing is, aside from some parts looking like comics, majority of the graphic novel was portrayed using the contrast of black and white, of light and shadows. (Just look at the cover!) And I really liked how everything looked. (Like I said, the cover ish prreeettttyyyy~!)
This volume of Trese contained four short stories: Case 5 - A Little Known Murder in Studio 4, Case 6 - The Outpost on Kalayaan Street, Case 7 - Embrace of the Unwanted, and Case 8 - The Association Dues of Livewell Village.
Each story was unique and although some of the supernatural characters featured were not entirely Filipino (zombies and dwarfs), the storytelling was fast-paced and filled with Filipino inspirations. I'd have to say that I loved reading about Heather Evangelista and Nova Aurora in Case 5.
Also, I noticed that the theme in each of the short story is the same: justice. Or, more specifically, what is justice for one specific character. Sometimes, revenge is misinterpreted as justice as in the case of Case 6 and Case 7. Then there's also the familiar theme of greed as shown by Case 5 and Case 8.
All in all, I really liked this graphic novel. However, I would love to read more about Alexandra and her origins. This volume didn't really explain much about Alexandra's background. Then again, I guess I'll have to grab a copy of the other volumes.