{Book Review} Trese #4 – Last Seen After Midnight

Last Seen After Midnight (Trese, #4)“Foul play. Magic spells. Supernatural criminals. When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese

This graphic novel contains the following cases: 

CADENA DE AMOR 
In a neglected area of Luneta Park, where the grass grows untended, a man is found strangled by vines; which have started to grow outwards, killing anyone that gets in its path. 

A PRIVATE COLLECTION 
A manananggal has been found, tortured and murdered. The Manananggal Clan declares war on the Aswang Clan. Trese must find the real murderer before more blood is shed, before Manila gets in the crossfire of a supernatural gang war. 

WANTED: BEDSPACER 
A strange illness has affected the students living along Katipunan Avenue. The doctors are clueless on what’s driving these people mad with despair. Can Trese trace the source of this growing paranormal epidemic? 

FIGHT OF THE YEAR 
Once a year, in General Santos City, the demons and creatures of the underworld converge to watch a most awaited event, where the country’s greatest boxer fights for his very soul.”*

Last Seen After Midnight is the fourth in the series of highly successful komiks by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo. I was very much excited to read this after the impact of the third Trese book, Mass Murders, because even though I said last time that it answers much of my questions, admittedly, I can never get enough Trese. Unlike its predecessor, Last Seen After Midnight has taken after the first two volumes, wherein the cases are stand-alone. There is no story arc that connect the four cases, but that’s fine by me since each case proved to be interesting in its own right.

I wasn’t too keen on the first case since I felt that it was over too soon, just when it was really starting to build up, but I loved how they used the popular OPM song “Ang Huling El Bimbo” by the Eraserheads as a peg for the relationship between Florabelle and her plants. At any rate, I couldn’t help imagining actual plants singing this song, and I give Cadena de Amor bonus points for making me think such ridiculous things.

Fight of the Year obviously parodies world-class boxer Manny Pacquiao. I thoroughly enjoyed how the plot explained why Manuel, the boxer, trains so hard for his fights despite him not needing any more monetary prizes offered by each fight. It’s more than just the honor, but what that “more” is, you’ll just have to read and see. I laughed out loud at the explanation for why the crime rate is zilch whenever Manuel has a fight, but based on the context of the story it is entirely plausible. What that explanation is, you have to read to find out as well. Another thing that I’ve noticed most of the reviews never fail to mention – it is in this case where you get to see Trese in a dress. Yup. That’s right. Better savor that page because I don’t think we’ll see her in a dress anytime soon again. She really looked stunning!

The second case, A Private Collection, is where things got really tricky – and sticky – for Trese. There is only one other time where I was not entirely sure what would happen in the story, and that was in Mass Murders. Because of this, I loved the plot. The antagonist in the story is such a creeper, eurgh.

Last but not the least is my favorite, Wanted: Bedspacer. Usually I automatically get interested in a case if it’s set in a place where I frequent, and this is no exception. Since my school is along Katipunan, I felt a sort of connection to the setting. This time, though, my love for the plot exceeded my affinity for the location. This case includes the infamous bangungot, but this time, Budjette Tan used a different angle and a new perception that explains this phenomenon in a way that I thought was creative and original, if not heartwrenchingly beautiful. 

In this volume, I could not help but notice how different Alexandra Trese looks compared to the three previous books. KaJo Baldisimo has created an edgier, sharper version of Trese in this book, resulting in cleaner drawings compared to the sketch-like quality of Murder on Balete Drive and the others. I think what really marks the difference are Trese’s eyes. They seem more open now, anyway.

I will never stop loving Trese. I know, I’m such a fangirl, but still. I cannot express enough how I impatient I am for the next installment!

In a nutshell…

Rating: 4/5
140 pages
Writer: Budjette Tan
Illustrator: Kajo Baldisimo
Publisher: Visual Print Enterprises
Published: October 2009
Genre: Paranormal, Horror, Crime
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{Book Review} Trese #3: Mass Murders

Mass Murders (Trese, #3) 

“12 midnight at Metro Manila.

Try to remain calm if you suddenly spot a tikbalang speeding down EDSA or a manananggal swooping across the Makati skyline. While partying at the Fort, never ever let the enkanto at the bar buy you a drink.

Yet, there are deadlier things than walk the streets of this city.

One of them now demands blood and sacrifice.

When crime takes a turn for a weird, the police call Trese”*

This volume is not like the previous Trese graphic novels. While the foundation of the plots of Murder on Balete Drive and Unreported Murders were based on entirely different cases, the cases presented in Mass Murders were all connected to one another, revealing the intricate web of the Trese clan and Alexandra’s heritage. In my past reviews of Trese, I have been constantly looking for something to explain how Alexandra Trese became who she is in the present, along with the mystery of how the kambal are so devoted to her in the first place. After a year of waiting (for those who followed Trese since it first came out in 2008), or more appropriately, 3 days for me (since I bought the first two volumes first), those niggling questions finally got answered.

I am not going to spoil anything by typing in Alexandra Trese’s family history and everything, but I have to say that I really enjoyed this volume. This is my favorite yet from the series, and the difference in thickness between this book and its predecessor (Unreported Murders only had 88 pages which definitely left me hanging) was really good for me who wanted to read more of Alexandra and her adventures. For people who love learning about the history and background of the characters they are reading about, this book would prove to be an enjoyable one, though like most series books, answers only enough questions to leave you thirsting for more. I don’t mind this, since I very well intend to read all the Trese books in existence. Budjette Tan’s writing was splendid. The dialogue, the plot, the little twists and descriptions, everything, was perfect. Gah. I can’t spazz enough.

Another thing. If you enjoy reading superhero comic books and the like, I’m pretty sure you’ll like Mass Murders as well. It is exactly as its title suggests. There are a lot of action scenes that hardly require any speech bubbles because KaJo Baldisimo’s drawings make you understand what is going on at once. There’s a lot of fighting and gore, which I find really cool because, in my opinion, most of the paranormal stories I’ve read have helpless victims who never see the light of the next day. Having a strong heroine who the monsters are afraid of is an idea I really love.

Reading Mass Murders for me is like.. okay, I was about to say pizza, since after you’re done with the whole thing you still want more, but I think that only applies to me and other very hungry people, but you get the point. I really loved this, and I am more in love with the series than ever. 5 stars!!!

PS. Incidentally, this is my thirteenth post. Reveling the coincidence thus far ^__^

In a nutshell…

Rating: 5/5
140 pages
Writer: Budjette Tan
Illustrator: Kajo Baldisimo
Publisher: Visual Print Enterprises
Published: October 2009
Genre: Paranormal, Horror, Crime

Related Links:

Trese #1: Murder on Balete Drive

Trese #2: Unreported Murders

Trese #4: Last Seen After Midnight

{Book Review} Trese #2: Unreported Murders

Unreported Murders (Trese, #2)

 

“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.”*

The second volume in the Trese series, Unreported Murders delves deeper into the world of the paranormal, much to my delight and horror. I have revived my old high school habit of reading during the thin sliver of time between studying and sleeping, and reading about monsters that could probably be a-creepin’ around my room at the moment doesn’t really help in the sleeping part. Nevertheless, I was able to revel more in the interesting aspect of this volume rather than the scare factor, which leads me to mention my thoughts after finishing the last case.

There are four cases featured in Unreported Murders. I was very much amused to find so many references to things that exist in our collective consciousness, parodies of well-known people and places, and urban legends that get passed on from generation to generation. Exhibit A: In A Little Known Murder in Studio 4, ABC-ZNN sounds very much like ABS-CBN, a real-life Philippine TV network that is presently located along Mother Ignacia Street, and Heather Evangelista, the victim, clearly references Heart Evangelista. Exhibit B:  Embrace of the Unwanted. This case clearly plays on the infamous Robinsons malls urban legend about a snake that kidnaps and eats women in dressing rooms. There are much more, and finding these Easter eggs definitely adds to the fun of reading this volume, and every volume in the Trese series.

So far, this is the more graphic of the first two Trese books. Because one of the cases involves zombies, and another involves a horde of the creatures, there are naturally more fight scenes between the monsters and Alexandra with her kambal. If you enjoy that sort of thing, you will definitely enjoy this volume.

I still like the first book more, but this volume doesn’t trail too far behind. I liked Unreported Murders, and it’s doing a really good job of keeping the next books hyped up and keeping my interest. There are still things about Alexandra Trese and the other characters that I wished to be explored ever since the first book, but since this is part of a series, I am not without hope that the next book will explain the mystery of their identities.

In a nutshell…

Rating: 4/5
140 pages
Writer: Budjette Tan
Illustrator: Kajo Baldisimo
Publisher: Visual Print Enterprises
Published: July 2008
Genre: Paranormal, Horror, Crime

Related Posts:

Trese #1: Murder on Balete Drive

Trese #3: Mass Murders

Trese #4: Last Seen After Midnight

{Book Review} Trese #1: Murder on Balete Drive

Murder On Balete Drive (Trese, #1)

When the sun sets in the city of Manila, don’t you dare make a wrong turn and end up in that dimly-lit side of the metro, where aswang run the most-wanted kidnapping rings, where kapre are the kingpins of crime, and engkantos slip through the cracks and steal your most precious possessions. 

When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.”*


I first heard of Trese sometime around December of last year, but as I was busy with college-related stuff, I didn’t think much of it and eventually forgot about it… until my parents gave me gift certificates to National Bookstore for Christmas and I was free to FINALLY buy books! I spent the last of them on this whole series, a decision which, so far, I DO NOT REGRET.

Before I even started reading the graphic novels, I was already very excited. I love stories that have mythological aspects in a modern setting, and Trese promises to deliver just that. Filipino readers will be delighted to find the legendary aswang, kapre, engkantos, and several other creatures from native folklore jump straight from the page with the sharp angles of the black-and-white illustrations and dialogue that reveal their true selves as well as the side that allows them to mingle among us, unnoticed.

Trese: Murder on Balete Drive is the first book in the Trese series written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by KaJo Baldisimo. It has four cases that the protagonist, a bold young woman named Alexandra Trese, tackles with her trusty kambal bodyguards. The settings are eerily familiar, based on real roads and places within the Philippines. Case 2, Rules of the Race, stands out clearly in my mind, because the main storyline takes place in C-5, a road I pass every day to and from school. That, and the familiarity of the folklore and horror stories I grew up with as a child made reading this more interesting.

I normally don’t read supernatural stuff, and I was initially trepidated at the prospect of reading about the things that lurked around my childhood nightmares living among us now. I thought that if I read about the aswang actually surviving in the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, the forever young side of my brain will freak out and think I am no longer safe. That was not the case with this book, and with that I am glad. It’s not because the material wasn’t convincing; I was just really interested. And because of that, I am now all the more excited to read the coming books.

I really suggest everyone to take up this series and read it, but I’m afraid those unfamiliar with Philippine mythology could feel a bit lost. That said, if you read Trese, you would be able to get some information about the creatures from the stories, but if there are a lot of sources in the Internet that cover them. I was Googling “Philippine monsters” and I saw this. I am Filipino and I haven’t even heard of some of the monsters, there are so many of them. Now that I’ve read the first volume, I really must start reading the next ones!

In a nutshell…

Rating: 4/5
104 pages
Writer: Budjette Tan
Illustrator: Kajo Baldisimo
Publisher: Visual Print Enterprises
Published: March 2008
Genre: Paranormal, Horror, Crime
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