The Filipino Heroes League Book One: Sticks and Stones
Comics & Graphic Novels
Story and Art: Paolo Fabregas
This is one overdue review of an excellent local graphic novel. I was at this April's Komikon earlier this year where I got this. Got my copy signed too by the very bald, very tall and handsome author.
Don't let the corny sounding title fool you. This is a smartly written book on what it means and what it takes to be a superhero, specially the difficulties and hassles of being a third-world government-funded superhero: Headquarters old and falling apart? Tough shit; Foreign superheroes steal your thunder? Live with it; Your crappy vehicle gives up on you? Take a cab, a PEDICAB! Honestly, the back cover featuring Invisiboy and Kidlat Kid commandeering a pedicab sold me to the book. It got me thinking, "What kind of a predicament that superheroes would have to ride in such a mundane vehicle to get to where they are needed?" A Filipino superhero it seems.
The Filipino Heroes League appears to have seen it's glory days as a superhero group. Gone now are it's founding members. Some are dead while it's original leader, the Supremo lies in a coma. Apparently the majority of it's members are OFH's or Overseas Filipino Heroes who either use their powers for entertainment (Sky, another original member works at a travelling circus) or as Government-loaned supers. Think of it as OFW's with super powers. Now the days are gone when being a superhero means just saving lives and protecting the country from an equally powerful adversary. Now they seem like a joke and outlived their usefulness that their military(?) handlers want them gone. Replacing them with a better, grittier and more dangerous set of superheroes. And that's not even the main plot.
A lot of allegorical rhetoric can be found on this book: Overseas Filipino Workers as powered up Bagong Bayani's, Government corruption and inadequacies, the image of our modern heroes (firefighters, soldiers, policemen) and their sacrifices for a thankless job.
The art style is pretty much moody line drawings but it works here. A more polished, Marvelized style would destroy the feel of the book. The names of the characters might sound campy and unimaginative but then again, this is a comic book. You can't be all serious when tackling government goons and fallen superheroes, right?
This Php200.00 130+ page black and white graphic novel is a solid work you wouldn't mind to be in your book shelf is what I'm saying.