Trese: Last Seen After Midnight

If I had to single out one moment when I first decided to give comics another chance it was when I got to the end of Our Secret Constellation, the fourth case in Trese: Murder on Balete Drive. It’s rare that a story hits me like that, but the first collected edition of Budjette Tan’s and Kajo Baldisimo’s story about a bad-ass, pre-pubescent (or short and petite enough to pass for it) was one of those that just felt so real to me, even if it was a fictional account of a fictional character’s future history. Plus, I'm a sucker for bad-ass, pre-pubescent girls who fight demons and the only other writer who caters to that fixation of mine is Joss Whedon.

It’s been about two years since Trese: Mass Murders, the third of the collected editions. That’s a long wait for a fan boy, but it’s nothing I’m not used to. Hell, I started the Wheel of Time series back in 1992 and I’m still waiting to find out what happens to everyone. Since the third book though, the guys have gained a sizable following, won the National Book Award for Graphic Literature, and made fans of notables in the field like Andrew Wheeler and *gasp* Neil Gaiman. I was as excited as anyone to read the next book so I dragged myself out of bed and attended the Trese: Last Seen After Midnight Book Launch a few weeks ago.

That last statement is a bit misleading, since I’ve actually bought two of the stories as ashcans available at the Komikon and read a part of a third online. Still, as a collector, I want something shiny. The National Bookstore version of the book with its exclusive dust cover certainly qualifies.

The book is composed of four short stories: Cadena De Amor, A Private Collection, Wanted: Bedspacer, and The Fight of The Year. The collection goes back to the episodic format of volumes 1 and 2, with each of the shorts being a standalone story. I actually loved the fact that Tan and Baldisimo had worked a through story into the last volume and was sad to see they had dropped that format here, since it had worked so well.

My personal favorite among the four is Cadena De Amor as it’s got the least amount of elucidation. That was something I loved about the early books: how Trese could just go dicking around with the occult and not explain a damn thing to anyone. While A Private Collection and Wanted: Bedspacer are both great, with a healthy helping of folklore and detectivising, they both contain a lot more exposition than I’ve gotten used to. Any of the stories are a great jumping on point for new readers, and there isn’t any real continuity involved in this volume so you can read them out of order like I did.

Fight of the Year, though is this collection’s Our Secret Constellation. The homage the Philippine’s hero, Manny Pacquiao is obvious. The protagonist of the story is a boxer of General Santos City who wanted fame and fortune, but got more than he bargained for. It’s told through the eyes of an aspiring boxer who idolizes the hero and Trese does very little but narrate the story. Personally it’s not one of my favorites among the cases, but it is notable for the very idea that Pacman may fight like a demon because he has to.

While Trese: Last Seen After Midnight isn’t the best of the four volumes released so far, it’s a worthy addition to the set. I wasn’t able to get my copy signed at the launch, so I’ll be headed to the 7th Annual Philippine Komiks Convention to get those autographs. Hopefully, by then Kajo will have completed another edition of his Night Gallery series. Despite not knowing what to do with Hannah and Ammie and Maliksi, I still want to get more of his fantastic art.

Speaking of which, if you buy a copy of Trese: Last Seen After Midnight at National Bookstore, Powerbooks, or Bestsellers before October 31st, you get a chance to win this iPad!

Budjette Tan, photo from
The back of the gizmo has exclusive art by Kajo Baldisimo (and probably some leftover skin cells from Budjette Tan, in case you need his DNA for future experiments where you clone a benelovent overlord to rule over mankind) that is just fantastic. I seriously hope that'll make an appearance as a poster someday. I’ve already bought 3 copies of the book and will need to get a few more before the month's out. They do make handy Christmas gifts. Now you guys all know what you’re getting from me this year.

I’m keeping the iPad if I win it, though. That sketch is just awesomelicious.

TRESE: Last Seen After Midnight
By: Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo
ISBN:  971-05450-7-8
B and W Graphic Novel
SRP: P175.00

For fans overseas (or people too lazy to go to their local bookstore)
you can order a copy of the book at National Bookstore's Online Store.
Do it now. Your benevolent overlord commands you. 

For more information on Trese, visit their homepage at
You can read more of Budjette Tan's Trese short stories at
You can see more of Kajo Baldisimo's art at
Don't forget to follow Trese on twitter:

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