September sees the return of Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), the country's longest-running and largest book bazaar. This year, it's the comic fans who would perhaps have the most pleasure and privilege.
MIBF 2023 is putting the spotlight on local comics, especially since the genre has transcended fantasy superhero stories and is exploring Philippine mythology, current events, and sociopolitical issues.
Here are some of the Filipino titles that comic fans, even the average bookworm, ought to buy during the fair, which will take place from Sept. 14 to 17 at the SMX Convention Center Manila in Pasay.
Red Sonja 2023 #1, Comic Odyssey Philippines Exclusive Cover by Elmer Santos (Comic Odyssey)
Released on the 50th anniversary of the fictional sword and sorcery superheroine Red Sonja (who debuted in 1973), this action-packed issue depicts the heroine running from the law after being framed for murder and she plunges into the darkest places of Hyboria to unravel the mystery of what happened to clear her name.
Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat (or The World of Andong Agimat) by Arnold Arre (Komiket)
Andong Agimat, armed with a powerful magic talisman, must rescue the forest goddess Mariang Makiling from a cult leader who is siphoning her blood to transform his followers into supervillains. Andong Agimat, together with his equally powerful friends, must rescue the goddess before the time runs out or else the ravaging villains will prevail in controlling the world.
Blight by Yuri Pinzon (Komiket)
Blight delves into a zombie outbreak that occurs in the cold mountains of Baguio City, which separates Max and her older brother. Near the brink of death, Max discovers that her flesh and blood have a chance to cure the zombie virus, but with certain rules that complicate the cure.
Zsazsa Zaturnnah sa Kalakhang Maynila Collected Edition by Carlo Vergara (Avenida)
What love will prevail? The heroine Ada begins a new life by moving to the bustling metropolis of Metro Manila after she thinks that all villains are already defeated. This sequel to the acclaimed graphic novel features the adventure and newfound romance of small-town beautician Ada in Metro Manila. Unlike before, she is now caught in her internal battle of what should be right: to pursue and guard her heart or sacrifice her love for the sake of many.
Si Janus Silang at ang Labanang Manananggal-Mambabarang Manga 2, based on the novel by Edgar Calabia Samar, adapted by Mervin Malonzo (Anino Comics/Adarna House)
"Putol ang katawan, may pakpak, lumilipad, anong hindi nakakatakot dun." This sequel of the frightening yet mystifying world of Bagani and other Philippine mythological creatures features a storytelling that dares you to be brave enough while discovering the marvelous details and unsuspected turn of events. The story starts four months after the end of the first installment with Janus now living with Manong Joey. Janus seeks justice and unlocks a hidden part of himself that will be the key to ending the longstanding battle between good and evil.
Tarantadong Kalbo, vol. 1-3 by Kevin Eric Raymundo (Komiket)
The comics compilations of the highly ubiquitous Tarantadong Kalbo deal with political issues, current events and childhood nostalgia, with the first volume bagging the National Book Award for Graphic Literature, and his iconic ‘Tumindig’ fist people icon recognized as an international entry at Japan’s prestigious Good Design Award.
The Fire of Courage by Shirley Siaton (8 Letters Bookstore and Publishing)
What if everything was taken from you, including your father, and you’re now the culprit? Would you seek revenge? In this Filipino mythology-inspired comic, Uryana was anointed to be the savior of their threatened tribe as almost everything including their bravest warriors was killed by a serpent beast so powerful that no one ever came close to defeating it. How can Uryana, not even a warrior, face this ruthless beast?
Aside from the local titles, other comics that are expected to be on the MIBF shelves include Annihilation Scourge Fantastic Four #1 Noto Variant by Marvel Comics (Comic Odyssey); The Art of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Anime by Koyoharu Gotouge (Fully Booked); Chainsaw Man Buddy Stories by Sakaku Hishikawa and Tatsuki Fujimoto (Tankobonbon Manga Book Store); Solo Leveling Final Volume by Chu-Gong (Tankobonbon Manga Book Store); and Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 26 by Aka Akasaka (Fully Booked).