Visual Print Enterprises
|Publication date||December 2005 – October 2011|
|Number of issues||17 (As of April 2012)|
Trese is a horror/crime komiks created by writer Budjette Tan and artist Kajo Baldisimo. It tells the story of Alexandra Trese, a detective that deals with crimes of supernatural origin. The third book, Trese: Mass Murders, won Best Graphic Literature in the 29th National Book Award last November 2010.
Trese was first published independently by Alamat Comics in ashcan (photocopied) and online format. It is currently available in a collected, graphic novel form, published by Visual Print Enterprises.
When the sun sets in the city of Manila, don’t you dare make a wrong turn and end up in that dimly-lit side of the metro, where aswang run the most-wanted kidnapping rings, where kapre are the kingpins of crime, and engkantos slip through the cracks and steal your most precious possessions.When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.
Trese is a horror/crime komiks title created by writer Budjette Tan and artist Kajo Baldisimo. It follows the story of Alexandra Trese, a mysterious detective that deals with crimes of supernatural origin mainly occurring in the capital region of the Philippines.
Alexandra steps in to protect the streets of Manila when the police can’t deal with the supernatural weirdness that appears. Whenever she’s needed, Trese arrives, often called in by Captain Guerrero, the Commissioner Gordon to Trese’s unconventional Batman, a man who seems singularly predisposed to lean on her knowledge and specific skills. Supported by two mysterious and obviously magical creatures of uncertain powers – the always stylish Kambal, she’s always there to protect Manila from supernatural threat. Comparisons to Hellblazer and Vertigo were supplanted in this story with a familiar feel – this has the glorious scale and import of Ellis and Cassaday’s Planetary, with Trese functioning as the spiritual and supernatural protector of Manila, delivering her world safe and sound, no matter what it takes, whilst we get to investigate alongside, all the weird and wonderful her mystical existence has to offer. It fuses Philippine horror mythology with graphic storytelling and dark art in telling the story of Alexandra Trese, a detective who specializes in supernatural cases.
Originally intended to be released with just 13 cases, all issues are stand-alone cases except for issues from Mass Murders, where Case #9-13 are all related, using different cues from the previous books. Volumes 1 & 2 contain self-contained chapters 1-8, where it introduces to the strange and weird world on (and under) the streets of Manila. This self-contained story ideal comes (as Tan says) from his idol Warren Ellis - to create a self-contained story in short, perfect tales. But again, the similarities between early Jamie Delano written Hellblazer comics is obvious – each story of Trese builds up her mystique and introduces a little more of her background in Manila, just as Delano did in Original Sins.
In Volume 3, Tan starts to develop the story beyond the single issue story structure he’s used so far, taking us back in time to the moment where 15-year-old Alexandra Trese joined her father Anton on her first case. And along the way we find out the origins of her constant companions and bodyguards; the stylish, ultra cool and very deadly Kambal.
- Alexandra Trese - First appeared in Trese #1 Case 1. A strong, independent, modern woman with an old soul deeply attached to the Underworld. Alexandra Trese, or simply Trese, is a private detective who specializes in crimes perpetrated by supernatural beings of the Underworld. She is the proprietor of The Diabolical, a night club that serves the best kapeng barako in the street where it stands, just like the time when it was once a simple cafe run by Trese's grandfather. She is usually dressed in black garb and is often seen working in her trademark outfit a black button-down Chinese-inspired trenchcoat. For weapons, Trese uses guns and a magical kris called 'Sinag', a short sword having wavy edges, used by the old Muslim tribes such as the Maranaw. Trese seems to have a very complex relationship with her father, Anton.
"My name is Alexandra Trese. I am nothing like my father." - Trese #1
- Kambal - First appeared in Trese #1 Case 1. "Kambal" literally translates to "twins" in English and they are Alexandra Trese's mysterious and imposing personal bodyguards. It is not known as to what matter of creature the Kambal are, whether they are human or some Underworld species. It is not until the third book that the creators finally explained who the Kambal really are. These handsome, half-bred men are often seen floating, wearing black suits and strikingly unique diamond-shaped masks, one bearing a happy face and the other a sad face. To tell them apart when they don't have their masks, Kajo gave the happy-faced Kambal a long haircut and the sad-faced Kambal, a short hairstyle. The Kambal with the short hair and bears the sad-faced mask is Crispin, the eldest of the Kambal. While the one with the long hair and bears the happy-faced mask answers to the name Basilio, the younger Kambal and the more playful of the two.
- Captain Guerrero - First appeared Trese #1 Case 1.
- Tapia - First appeared in Trese #1 Case 1.
- Hank Sparrow - First appeared in Trese #1 case 3. He is the trusted bartender of The Diabolical. It is said that he loves to listen to stories of customers and if he likes their story he gives them a drink for free. However, according to what Budj wrote, Hank has been a bartender for a long time and has heard all kinds of stories that it has been a long time since he last gave out a free drink.
- Anton Trese - First mentioned in Trese #1 Case 1. First appeared in Trese #3 Case 1. He is Alexandra Trese's father and the former guardian of Metro Manila.
- Gina Santos - First appeared in Trese #1 Case 1. Gina Santos is a white lady, a ghost whose corpse (or a physical manifestation of her ghost) was found in the intersection of Balete Drive and 13th street. She died back in 1963, when she was run over by a drunk driver while waiting for her lover. Her ghost has haunted that intersection until the day her body was found in present day Manila inside a circle drawn with ground-up mermaid bones.
- Nuno sa Manhole - First appeared in Trese #1. A small, dwarf-like creature of the Underworld. Their kind once lived in mounds of dirt or ant hills until humans started throwing garbage and littered their homes. This particular nuno lives in a manhole, does not like the sea, and seems to know Alexandra's father. There is a superstition that if you disturb a nuno's home, it would inflict powerful curses on the poor, unsuspecting human. In the komiks, Trese asked for permission when she passed by a dirt mound, saying "Tabi, tabi po. Good evening po."
- Aling Terrie - First appeared in Trese# 1 Case 4. A vendor in Quiapo, Manila and one of Alexandra Trese's usual informants.
- Aswang - First appeared in Trese #1. One of Trese's many persistent enemies.
- Albert Morales - First appeared in Trese #1 Case 2. A victim of a car crash, Albert Moralez is the third victim in a series of drag racing related accidents in C-5 National Highway. He was last seen racing against a notoriously fast black car. In the crime scene, there were marks resembling hooves of horses seen on Albert's car and in the vicinity. His girlfriend, Katya Sanchez, was reported to be kidnapped after the crash.
- Tikbalang - First appeared in Trese #1 case 2.
- Maliksi - First appeared in Trese #1 Case 2. A tikbalang responsible for multiple illegal drag races held on C-5. Son of the Great Stallion and a member of the Armanaz herd.
- Senor Armanaz - First appeared in Trese #1 case 2. A tikbalang and the head of the Armanaz herd.
- Mr. Armanaz III - First appeared in Trese #1 Case 2. A member of the Armanaz herd.
- Santelmo - a friend of Alexandra who assists her in some of her cases. First appeared in Trese #1 case 3.
- Hannah and Ammie - First appeared in Trese #1 case 2. Hannah and Ammie are Wind-people; they are beings that possess the magical powers of the wind. Hannah is from the Habagat tribe and Ammie is from the Amihan tribe.
- Manuel - First appeared in Trese #4 Case 4. Manuel is a famous boxer from General Santos City and a prizefighter of Sy Tan.
- Sy Tan - First appeared in Trese #4 Case 4.
Each of the individual issues of Trese is structured like a detective case, with Alexandra Trese arriving at a crime scene and going about gathering clues until the case is solved. The following are the individual synopses for each cases as well as various information unique to each issue.
- Case 1: At the Intersection of Balete and 13th Street
- Case 2: The Rules of the Race
- Case 3: Our Secret Constellation
- Case 4: The Tragic Case of Dr. Burgos
- Case 5: A Little Known Murder in Studio 4
- Case 6: The Outpost in Kalayaan Street
- Case 7: Embrace of the Unwanted
- Case 8: The Association Dues of Livewell Village
* Case 9: A Private Retaliation
The case opens with the dancer, Janette Lucero, entertaining four men in the private room of a night club. An unknown woman enters, one the men seem to recognize.
Later, the four men and Janette are found dead and Captain German (predecessor to Guerrero) welcomes Anton Trese and his fifteen year old daughter Alexandra to the scene. The men are revealed to be scout rangers from the army, their bodies missing their hearts. Bloody footprints cover the walls, revealing the presence of either a child or an unknown creature. The Trese duo take an eye from one of the men, using it to reveal an image of the woman who killed them.
Anton's men, Puti and Bantay, Sigben (shapeshifters who can transform into dogs) track the woman's scent to an illegal weapons dealers in a meat factory, and interrogate the aswang running it.
They find out that the woman gathered enough weapons to raid an outpost with several men. Anton then summons Alexandra (who was listening to a Santelmo's stories) and says they will be going to an asylum.
* Case 10: Patient 414 in Mandaluyong
At the asylum, they interview Raul Lanares, an unresponsive patient. Using pagtatawas, they learn from his spirit that he was part of a group that used the deaths of rebels to summon a powerful datu of war. The war god was summoned, and reflecting his lust for one of the surviving rebels, and his blood lust, they killed their own allies and gangraped the rebel woman. They raided one rebel camp after another and murdered everyone in sight, raping the woman with each victory until they woke from their rampage in a burned down village. The woman was gone, though she reappeared two years later, leading raiding parties on military outposts. Raul Lanares was disturbed by this, so he was sent home, where he found his family missing with no trace.
After getting his story, Anton and Alex move on to ask other nonhumans about the datu of war. They eventually come across Darago and Darranga, former war gods who now work at an arcade, feeding off of virtual wars in video games. They give the Trese duo the name "Talagbusao", a war datu who is summoned by death and who stays until the battle is over. He has the ability to possess anyone and incite blood lust. In his last incarnation, he impregnated a woman, resulting in a war child--which grants any army invincibility, and is fed hearts and trained to kill. Talagbusao seeks to eat the war child, which will result in the end of peace.
Meanwhile, Puti, Bantay, Dogbert and Blackie (all Sigben) face off with the war child. Though they succeed in dismembering it, it grows its limbs back and is seemingly invincible. The war child slaughters two of them, and the other two are slaughtered by a second war child--the first's twin. They are Basilio (the younger) and Crispin (the elder), sons of the rebel woman Ramona, and of the war datu, Talagbusao.
- Case 11: The Fort Bonifacio Massacre
- Case 12: The Baptism of Alexandra Trese
- Case 13: An Act of War
- Case 14: Cadena De Amor
- Case 15: A Private Collection
- Case 16: Wanted: Bedspacer
- Case 17: Fight of the Year
- Case 18: Maverick Rider
- Case 19: The Judge's Verdict
- Case 20: Return of the Madame
- Case 21: The Great Stampede
- Case (number unknown): Thirteen Stations
- Stories from the Diabolical: One Last Drink at the Diabolical
- Stories from the Diabolical: The Usual Spot
- Stories from the Diabolical: Coffee Black
- Stories from the Diabolical: I Carry Your Heart
- Stories from the Diabolical: On the First of January
- Stories from the Diabolical: Last Full Show
- Stories from the Diabolical: The Choir
- Precinto 13: A Domestic Disturbance
- Precinto 13: Premediation
- Precinto 13: Midnight Patrol
- Book 1 - Trese: Murder on Balete Drive
- Book 2 - Trese: Unreported Murders
- Book 3 - Trese: Mass Murders
- Book 4 - Trese: Last Seen After Midnight
- Book 5 - Trese: Midnight Tribunal
- Mañalac, Marco (2011-10-22). "Horror in the Philippines!". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
- National Book Development Board (13 November 2010). "29th National Book Award Winners Announced". National Book Development Board Website. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
- Trese Komiks Press Release.Trese Komiks Online, December 9, 2005. Accessed on April 29, 2008.
- Forbidden Planet International (Feb 10, 2012). "Trese – dark mysteries on the streets of Manilla". Forbidden Planet International. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Forbidden Planet International (January 14, 2011). "Trese – more supernatural tales from Manilla….". Forbidden Planet International. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Budjette Tan, Kajo Baldisimo. Trese #3: The Secret Constellation. Alamat Comics (December 2005): page 5, panel 5.
- Budjette Tan, Kajo Baldisimo. Trese: Murder on Balete Drive. Visual Print Enterprises (April 2008): page 95.
- Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo.Trese #2: Rules of the Race. Alamat Comics (December 2005): page 13, panel 3.
- "NBDB: Winners of the 31st National Book Awards". National Book Development Board. 13 November 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2013.