Kalayaan ("Freedom") is an independent comic book created by writer/artist Gio Paredes. Debuting in June 2007, the ongoing series is self-published by Paredes under his own imprint, GMP Comics.
MEET JOHN DE LA VEGA
Abandoned by his mother, recently orphaned by his alcoholic father, and unemployed, John dela Vega was an ordinary, down-on-his-luck young man. But his fortunes change dramatically after he saves the life of geneticist Rhea Calalang...
Impressed by John's courage and fighting prowess, Rhea convinces him to take part in Project Kalayaan, an experimental procedure to turn man into superman...
Now endowed with genetically-enhanced superhuman abilities, John is transformed into Kalayaan, a new Pinoy Superhero for a new age.
POWERS AND ABILITIES
When his genetic enhancements are activated, John's average 5'3" build mutates into Kalayaan's muscular 6'5" frame.
Kalayaan's costume is a nanobot armor that automatically forms around his body when activated. The suit can also mimic the appearance of regular clothes.
Kalayaan possesses superhuman strength and speed, as well as invulnerability and the power of flight.
Art by Erwin Ropa
He can also fire powerful blasts of energy from his eyes.
Aside from his powers, Kalayaan is armed with retractable blades from his arm guards, and was also trained in the martial arts by his late father.
SHIELDS ARE FOR SISSIES
In his first appearance, Kalayaan actually carries a shield, but he abandons it immediately. I don't know if it's intentional, but the move seems to send the message that Kalayaan is not just another localized Captain America knock-off, as some flag-themed Pinoy superheroes tend to be (no offense to those kinds of characters).
Part of the fun of following the series is following creator Paredes' progress as a writer and an artist. While the early issues of the comic were very crude, the art actually gets better with each issue, and recent stories have shown much more depth. An interesting and ironic aspect of the character of Kalayaan is that although his name means freedom, he often feels trapped by his responsibilities as a hero and by his own personal issues.
After her parents were murdered by kidnappers, Rhea conceives Project Kalayaan with the aim of creating a superbeing to fight against crime and corruption.
Rhea's younger brother, a technological genius who dons a high-tech battle suit of his own design.
A mystic lawman from an alternate dimension known as the Dark Realm.
An electric-powered supervillain/mad scientist who wants to take over the city.
Vorgon's sword-wielding henchman.
A man/wolf/lion hybrid created by Vorgon. Formerly a normal man who had been bullied most of his life, Blood Fang volunteered for the villain's genetic experiments in order to get his revenge on society. Vorgon later creates an army of Blood Fang clones.
A psychic villain who attempts to take control of Kalayaan's mind. He also has the power to make duplicates of himself.
Grayhorn's brother, an evil sorcerer from the Dark Realm.
Kalayaan's evil doppelganger, created by Salamangkero from the dark side of the hero's personality. Although Alipin sets out to punish evil (or what he deems as evil), he does so with extreme prejudice, meting out lethal "justice" for even the most minor of misdemeanors. Like his heroic counterpart, he is also ironically-named; while created to be a slave, he follows no one's will but his own.
SPECIAL GUEST HEROES
The Datu of Mactan, the 1st Filipino hero. Kalayaan encounters the historical figure in a near-death experience, and helps him fight a giant squid.
The nationalistic superhero team created by writer/artist Gener A. Pedrina.
The closest Philippine equivlent to the Justice League and the Avengers, an all-star team of Pinoy superheroes from various independent comic creators. Kalayaan is a member of the Bayan Knights' Powerhouse Division. Pictured below are (clockwise from top) Pag-Asa, Servant, Bagwis, Liberty Girl, Luzviminda, Claw, and Maskarado.
For more about Kalayaan (including the first three issues posted online), log on to the official Kalayaan website.