Comic Book Review: Insomnoir Prelude to Manila Man

Created by RH Quilantang

What kind of hero yells “Taympers!” when he trips on his laces while chasing the bad guys? A uniquely Filipino hero. He is Manila Man, Defender of Whatever (and yes, that really is his official title.)

Insomnoir brilliantly introduces us to Manila Man, a barker/snatcher turned barker/vigilante newbie and his blind mentor Apog who narrates the story. Where Manila Man is quick, blundering and funny Apog  is serious, measured and deliberate. The root of the comedy is in the passing of the torch from the old to the young.

At midnight, the criminals awake and the city isn’t safe to be wandering about in. Insomnoir creates this darkness quite literally by using solid blocks of black for the background. The Tagalog narration is almost poetic bordering on ceremonial in the choice of words. It adds to the feeling of foreboding.

It isn’t all doom and gloom however since from the very beginning there are hints of comedy culminating in the appearance of Manila Man himself and his very unique way of battling crime. The art reflects this comedy by keeping the backgrounds light and clean as on the page showing the villains’ reactions after Apog  failed to dodge an attack or the sequence when Manila Man narrated his every punch and kick.

For a hero to truly distinguish himself, he must have a catchphrase. For Manila Man, he yells “Pukaw namo!” when getting the attention of the baddies like right before making his entrance or while running after them after he trips and falls. It is a Cebuano phrase that loosely translates to “Wake up!” or “Hey you!” in English.

His catchphrase, along with his very colloquial vocabulary makes Manila Man very accessible and very much Filipino. What other kind of hero would call villains pangit or ungaz and refer to himself as imba? He could very well be just any other man on the street who decides to turn over a new leaf, turning from criminal to do-gooder.

If the storyline is kept as fresh and entertaining as Insomnoir, Manila Man has the makings of a great series. It has action, comedy, a hint of mystery and a very Filipino flavor. Not to mention an unforgettable hero. I am personally looking forward to the release of the Manila Man series very soon.

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