Tuesday, November 29, 2022


FINALLY, after a wait of THREE YEARS (if I waited til next year, these Bathala articles would be coming out like the Olympics), let us take a look the villains of the Kidlat Superheroes Komiks series Bathala, the terrorist demigods known as...




Real Name: Victor Coronel

The Salot leader Balang has the ability to shapeshift into a humanoid horse creature similar to the mythical tikbalang from which his name was derived.  He is also a martial arts expert and computer genius, and also happens to be the half-brother of Raja Team One leader Lam-ang.



Real Name: Ivan Rutger

Named after the Kapampangan word for a bat (and not to be confused for the Tagalog word for gas pain) Kabag is literally as blind as one, but also possesses its hypersensitive hearing, as well as a sixth sense.  He doesn't actually have the power to fly, but can glide through the air using his bat wing-shaped cape, and has retractable razor claws that can slice even through metal.  


Yeah, this is the only other picture I can find of him.  You can also see him getting beaten to a bloody pulp by Carpio in the Raja Team One article.

Obviously named after the tree giant of Philippine folklore, this Kapre is the team's muscle, possessing superhuman strength, as well as his mythical namesake's smoking habit.



Named after the nuno sa punso, small-but-terrible Nuno is the resident tech and weapons specialist.















The older sister of Raja Team member Adarna (sibling rivalries for everybody!), K'wa likewise has bird-like abilities and is trained in martial arts. Her name is possibly short for kuwago or owl, which would also explain her owl-shaped headgear (or is that her actual hair?).



I'm not sure what mythical creature she's supposed to be based on (a santelmo, maybe?), but Argan is a literally hot babe with fire-based powers.



Wednesday, September 21, 2022

DARNA 2022 and the Futility of Reviewing a Teleserye

 Here’s what I think about the new Darna TV series.


For her brief time in the role, Iza Calzado (as the "original" Darna) was the best Darna we never had.  As for the show’s actual star, newcome Jane De Leon is a fairly good actress and is very impressive in her action scenes—as Narda.   



Her Darna on the other hand is a bit rough and unsure of herself, but she’s supposed to be.  At this point in the story, she’s portrayed as the newbie superhero still feeling her way through things, so I reckon she’ll grow into the role as the series progresses.

They just really can't help but do the damn bracelet thing.

One problem, though, is that except for the scene above, the rest of Darna's action scenes end way too quickly.  Most of the time, when dealing with ordinary criminals and emergencies, she just whizzes by at super speed to mop everything up.  And when she deals with other super-powered beings--well, we'll get to that later.



They made some drastic changes to Darna’s origin, but I didn’t think it was a dealbreaker.  They didn’t so much change the story as remixed it, with some callbacks to the Mars Ravelo original, plus elements from later stories by other writers.

I liked the character of Mang Rolando, the kakanin vendor who turns out to be something of a scientist himself.  I though it was an interesting twist on the “mysterious old man” archetype.


We haven’t seen much of Janella Salvador’s Valentina, just one full episode and some brief flashes here and there.  But the show chooses to plays up the mystery, portraying her less as a sensuous serpentine supervillainess and more of a scary slithering nightmare.


For the most part, Salvador portrays Regina, a passionate crusading lawyer who is tortured by her snake-haired alter ego.  At this point she is Narda’s best friend, so we have yet to see the normally sweet-natured actress make a full villainous turn.

With the exception of Valentina, the series ignores most of the traditional Darna villains in favor of newly-created foes, which keeps things fresh, I guess.  At the moment, the actual big bad is General Borgo, an evil alien from the planet Marte who is manipulating things from the sidelines.  I like that his helmet resembles Darna's headgear, both being from the same world and all.  Otherwise, his overall design is pretty boring.  And then there's his female assistant, who starts out scantily-clad, then gradually acquires more clothing with each appearance.


Probably the most annoying antagonist in the show is the corrupt mayor.  If there's one thing I hate, it's a smug, sleazy, sneering villain, and in that regard the actor playing the character does a good job in making him as unlikable as possible.  He's so sincere about how bad he is and so insincere about everything else that you just want to punch him, and the dude does have a very punchable presence.

The main threat of the show are the so-called "Extras," humans who gained extraordinary (get it?) powers after being exposed to irradiated fragments from an alien cyborg (why did everyone immediately assume it was a cyborg rather than just an alien or a robot?  Are cyborgs so common that they know exactly what one looks like?).  Of the three Extras (not counting Valentina) that have appeared on the show, only two of them were actually evil, the first of which Narda encountered before she got her powers.  The third one, the Killer Ghost, is the first actual villainous Extra that Darna faces in her official capacity as a superheroine.

And that's when it got stupid.

#DarnaVsGhost - The most accurate episode title ever.


This broke me so bad that it killed any interest I had in the show, as well as my motivation in even continuing this review that I'm questioning why I even keep doing this.

I mean, it’s hard to review an ongoing local television series.  You can’t really judge them fairly from just the first episode.  With their soap opera format, you really have to watch several weeks’ worth of episodes in order to get a proper consensus.  Like, you may be singing its praises at first, but then you get to week 5 and you see that one episode that just changes your entire opinion on it.  It puts into perspective all of the episodes you’ve previously seen and you start to ask yourself: This is the show we’ve been waiting all these years for?

And you can rant and rave about how dumb it all is and voice out the same old complaints, but no one really listens.  The same mistakes keep getting made time and again.  Nothing ever changes.  Then someone will get on your case because how dare you criticize the thing that they like?

If you don't see what the problem is, I don't know what to tell you that hasn't already been said over and over again.  Heck, you may like it for the exact same reason that I don’t.  Why bother?

So, I'll just say this; if you happen to like the show, cool.  Just watch it because you actually like it.  Not because everybody else is, not because it’s trending, not out of blind devotion to whatever network is producing it.  Watch it either because you genuinely find something of value in it or simply because it entertains you on some level.  Even if you like it for some inexplicable, undefinable reason, that’s all right, too.  As long as you continue to find it enjoyable, then by all means, support it.

But if you start to notice the cracks, don’t watch in denial.  Recognize the flaws for what they are, and if you find that you’re not enjoying yourself anymore, you can either keep watching to see if it’ll get any better or decide not to waste any more time with it.

It’s up to you.

Sunday, June 26, 2022


 This has been requested for a long while now, so let's get to it and hereby declare...

Written by  Roger L. Reyes and illustrated by Ramon G. Lugue, WARRR NOW! (additional RRR's optional) ran in Space Horror Comix (published by Graphic Arts Service, Inc.) from issues 82 to 113 (August 14, 1989 - March 25, 1990).

Narrated by a sinister-looking host, the series chronicled the ongoing WARRR between the heroic Masters and the evil Sorcerers over control of the universe.  The characters and premise may seem like something from a Saturday morning cartoon of the time, but since it was being printed in Space HORROR Comix, it wasn't exactly kid-friendly fare.

Yeah, this was the TAMEST image I could find.


Based in Crystal Land (which is not an amusement park), the Masters are led by Earthman Joe Acosta.  Their members include the female warrior Master Ziva, the ghost-like White Lady, the--um, star-headed Star Head, the patriarch Ama ("Father"), and a bunch of other guys whose names I don't know.

Joe Acosta

Star Head

White Lady

Master Ziva and White Lady

Joe and Ama

Rock guy

Crystal dude and random female

Joe and a bird guy

Angel dude who turns into a bird
(could be the same person as bird guy)

Joe and his wingman.


Hailing from the Red Planet, the Sorcerers are initially--um, headed by Triple Head, who is later succeeded by butterfaced sorceress SorcilaShadow Woman is a half-human/half-Sorcerer whose allegiance is often conflicted.  Other Sorcerers include the self-explanatory Four Eyes, Devil Child, Bad Spider (who is basically Venom), and a bunch of other weirdos.

Triple Head

Shadow Woman
Bad Spider and Devil Child
Four Eyes and bargain Skeletor
Assorted freaks





















From Space Horror Comix #113, here is how the WARRR ended.


Monday, May 30, 2022




Written by Carlo J. Caparas and illustrated by R.V. Villanueva, Kamagong ran in Super Action Pocketkomiks (published by Atlas Publishing Co., Inc.) from issues 38 to 91 (May 7, 1986 - May 12, 1987).

The title refers to both the weapons and the man who wields them.  The Arnis de Mano champion of the town of Mabolo (where the martial art is an honored tradition), Manuel is nicknamed "Kamagong," after the hard wood from which his namesake arnis sticks were made.



Headstrong young arnis student who seeks to avenge the murder of his brother Emilio at the hands of disgraced fighter Lorenzo.









Manuel and Ariel's mentor.  His credo is "Fly like a bird and land on the ground like a dry leaf with the arnis still in your hands."








The love interests of Manuel and Ariel respectively.












Banished from Mabolo after killing Ariel's brother Emilio in a match, Lorenzo makes a name for himself as a brutal underground fighter.  He is obsessed with defeating Manuel and possessing the Kamagong sticks.


Lorenzo's crooked manager, who gambles on his fights.


's rival, who tries to recruit Manuel but eventually succeeds in convincing Ariel to fight against Lorenzo.


Kamagong was adapted into a 1987 action film produced by Viva Films.  Directed by Carlo J. Caparas himself, it starred Lito Lapid as Manuel and J.C. Bonnin as Ariel.  Bonnin also performed the movie's theme song, Ako'y Magwawagi ("I Will Win"), which for my money has to be one of the most kick-ass themes in Philippine cinema.



In 2018, a Kamagong animated television series was announced, produced by Sinag Animation Studios for tentative release in 2019.  Unlike the original komiks, the series would be more of a fantasy adventure in a period setting, featuring a new hero, Bagtas.


From the WhenInManila.com article:

"The animated series follows the story of protagonist Bagtas, the heir to Namayan, a kingdom enslaved by a foreign empire. His goal is to find the eight bulawans of Bathala to unleash the true power of the titular weapon Kamagong."

Unfortunately, production was put on hold due to the COVID pandemic.  However, the studio was able to release a teaser showcasing the look of the series.  And, hey, they even brought back the original theme song.  Awesome.  Hopefully, this project will get back on track soon.