My favorite local serial at the moment has got to be BATHALA: APOKALYPSIS by David Hontiveros and Ace Enriquez. This series about a Superman analogue named Bathala going up against the Apocalypse, as written in the book of Revelations, has been captivating, with enough mystery and unanswered questions that makes me eagerly look forward to the next issue.
If you're lost, you can read the first issue here, and my review of it here. Naturally, reviews for the second issue are filled with SPOILERS. Don't say I didn't warn you.
The second issue picks up where the first one left off. Andrew Carreon's (Bathala's) twin brother Leo has just been shot, but not before Leo gets to upload his personality into the Internet. Bathala couldn't save him because he was fighting his evil clone, Thala'ab, at the time. Earlier in the first issue, we saw glimpses of a cabal intent on unleashing the Apocalypse (complete with a seven-eyed lion) and also a short scene with the Carreon parents on (presumably) the night of the twins' conception - when the father fed the mother something extra in her food.
In this issue, these two things are expounded upon just enough to deepen the mystery, showing more portents of the impending doom that faces the earth as well as revealing what it is that Bathala's mother ate at that first scene in issue 1 (which Filipino readers will probably think obvious). And with these answers come more questions. Who exactly is the walking man? What exactly did the secret ingredient do to Mrs. Carreon? I don't know, but I'm eagerly waiting to find out and hypothesize in the meantime.
We're also introduced to Harold Hernandez, whom I suppose is Bathala's version of Lex Luthor. We find out that he created Thala'ab and that he went to school with the Carreons, and that he doesn't get along with Andrew but he does with Leo, who is now in the mainframe of Harry's company's computer.
Or is he? There's a scene at the end that would indicate otherwise, and like I said, it raises more questions than answers. Dave's storytelling is impeccable, and his use of language is very natural and appropriate to the story. I particularly like the narration; the diction and rhythm of the language just makes you feel the portents and omens coming off the page. It's really good storytelling.
The art has the same comments I gave it the first time around. I like Ace's subtlety. He can grab that spectrum of human emotion and make you see just how the characters feel. However, there is still the same inconsistency that the first issue had. I'm not exactly sure why Ace is using straight black and white line art to denote shading in some panels and then use Photoshopped grays to denote shading in others. Also, I'm not so sure why he uses pictures as backgrounds in some panels (and even, in one instance, a picture of a chess set in the foreground). Was it just to save time, or is there an intended effect? Whatever it is, the inconsistency sometimes takes me out of the story until Ace does longer sequences in just one style, and as long as he's consistent, he's good. The fight scene between Bathala and Thala'ab is really dynamic. Whatever Ace has to learn in terms of surface appeal in his art, he already has it made up for with his ability to tell a story clearly and dynamically. His layouts are very strong, never steering the reader the wrong way. If Ace can be consistent in his work - and this is hard, because these first two issues are already using these techniques, so if he decides to stop using Photoshopped backgrounds, the collection is gonna look odd - he's going to go a long, long way in the business. The storytelling is already there. He can only get better.
You can read issue 2 here, or, if you want a physical copy, you can get it at 55tinta Tattoo Shop. #55 Maginhawa St., Teachers Village, Quezon City.