Posted July 22, 2010 by Tony Tuason in Comics

KOMIKS REVIEW — TRESE: Murder on Balete Drive (Vol.1)

TRESE: Murder on Balete Drive (vol.1)
Written by Budjette Tan
Art by KajO Baldisimo
Published by Visual Print Enterprises

“When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese” – and thats exactly what the creators establish for this comic series which seems to merge The X-Files , murder and Philippine folklore. The first volume consists of four “cases”, wherein each case is a different story and is episodic (like The Losers by Kirby and Cowboy Bebop). Even without a sense of continuity, Tan and Baldisimo still manages to tell us a good story with each case.

The book opens up with a crime scene, and we are quickly introduced to two main characters – Alexandra Trese and Capt.Guerrero (kind of like Batman and Jim Gordon); and the super cool Kambal (Twins), Trese’s sidekicks who would do everything for their “bossing”. We dont see any back story or origin of these characters especially Trese and the Captain, but Tan’s clever dialogues gives us what we need to know and gives us a clear sense of who they are and their relationship with each other.

TRESE is full of interesting characters, and this is one of its strong points. It manages to get ideas from philippine folklore and culture, and even local urban legends – and merges all of them to make a creative and crafty murder story in a modern setting. Though each case features a new murder story, new enemy and new supporting cast, wherein Tan shows a lot of stuff and crazy good ideas in each case, and with Baldisimo making it come to life, sometimes i cant help but feel that the some stories are rushed or short. There are a lot of stuff in this book no doubt about it, new concepts that they introduce to readers but with only a few pages featuring those concepts and ideas, it certainly would make the reader crave for more and just hope that these concepts would be taken further in the future.

Kajo on the other hand, does a very awesome job in the art department here even with the absence of colors. Action scenes were very dynamic, speed is really emphasized, and the paneling he used for the storytelling is great. With every case, it is visible how Kajo experiments on his style and this shows how versatile he is. A minor issue on the art is the consistency on how he draws the faces, sometimes they are detailed and sometimes not. But this is still volume 1 and im sure we’ll see more from Tan and Kajo in the next volumes.

Hot mysterious girl with a kris, Twins for sidekicks, Balete Drive, and a story that pays homage to an iconic figure in Filipino comics with a bizarre twist. Totally worth it.

Tony Tuason

Tony is just your average guy who loves comics, toys, games, movies, and all those geek goodness.