Last October 8, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo launched the fourth book of Trese. (I would have been there if not for a fiery celebration of basketball victory down in Katipunan.) This collection, I have been waiting for since... well, since I finished reading the third book.

Cover of Trese 4: Last Seen After Midnight

For the unitiated with Trese, the comic is about Alexandra Trese and the Kambal. Whenever there's some strange crime in the neighborhood, some crime which can not be explained by forensic science, Sgt. Guerrero of the police calls on Trese to do her own version of underworld sleuthing. Trese deals with white ladies, kapres, manananggals, duwendes and a slew of elementals and mythological creatures from Filipino folklore.

This is way beyond Lola Basyang stories. Budjette has succeeded in merging the world of the living and the world of the undead. There is still something to fear in them, but they can also fear us and they can fear each other. Kajo was able to render Budjette's ideas with his beautiful yet gritty and dark artwork. I could not imagine any other artist who can illustrate the story of Trese better.

The dustcover

The fourth book is like most Trese compilations with four stand alone stories. "Cadena de Amor" is about a young sapling running amok looking for the gardener Florabelle. "A Private Collection" is about the mystery of a murdered manananggal. Trese tries to discover the cause of deaths and coma cases that occur during the same time in one dormitory in "Wanted: Bedspacer." The last story, "Fight of the Year" is an interesting inside look at the unusual albeit almost benevolent manner of achieving glory and fame of a world-renowned boxer.

All the stories are engaging and have quite interesting twists, though Private Collection could have been fleshed out more. However, I discovered that it was supposed to be the plot for the short film they were trying to make but due to budget constraints had to be shelved. It would have made an AWESOME movie! The Bangungot, I would say, has joined the ranks of my favorite Filipino mythological creatures, alongside the Kapre, Tikbalang and the Duwende.

To be honest, however, I like the other compilations better. But that should not take away from how good Trese 4 still is. It still offers a lot of excitement very much worth reading. I could say with conviction that Trese is one of my favorite comics ever, local or international. It's that good!

If you have not read any of the books, get all of them now! If you are a Trese collector, go out there and get the latest book!