Trese 4: Last Seen After Midnight

Trese 4: Last Seen After MidnightTrese # 4: Last Seen After Midnight by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo
Publisher: Visprint
Number of pages: 108
My copy: signed paperback, bought from Bestsellers

Foul play. Magic spells. Supernatural criminals. When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.

This graphic novel contains the following cases:

In a neglected area of Luneta Park, where the grass grows untended, a man is found strangled by vines; which have started to grow outwards, killing anyone that gets in its path.

A manananggal has been found, tortured and murdered. The Manananggal Clan declares war on the Aswang Clan. Trese must find the real murderer before more blood is shed, before Manila gets in the crossfire of a supernatural gang war.

A strange illness has affected the students living along Katipunan Avenue. The doctors are clueless on what’s driving these people mad with despair. Can Trese trace the source of this growing paranormal epidemic?

Once a year, in General Santos City, the demons and creatures of the underworld converge to watch a most awaited event, where the country’s greatest boxer fights for his very soul.

* * *

When I finished reading Trese a few months back, I was very excited to read the next book. Truth be told, I thought the fourth book was already out last year, so I added it in my Christmas wish list. Oops, my bad!

So I wasn’t exactly sure when the next installment would be out, but I wasn’t really in a big hurry because there were still too many books on my TBR. However, I admit to letting out a squeal of delight when I heard of the launch of the fourth book. Of course I will be there. Of course I need to get it. And of course, I need to get them signed. :)

With fellow book bloggers at the launch — thanks to Aimee of for the photo :)

Trese 4: Last Seen After Midnight follows the same format of the first three books: 4 short stories each showing a case. But unlike Book 3, Mass Murders (my favorite), the cases were not connected. This is not a bad thing, and I wasn’t really expecting them to really continue on what was shown in the third book, although I know some people who would like that.

But then again, who cares? The fourth Trese installment is just as good as its predecessors, and possibly even better. The cases still deal with paranormal creatures from Philippine mythology and more. This time, Budjette and KaJo made use of pop culture and melded it into the cases flawlessly. Cadena de Amor got me humming Eraserheads’ Ang Huling El Bimbo as it reminded me of a recent murder case that hit the TV and newspapers everywhere. The Fight of the Year is undoubtedly based on Manny Pacquiao, and I really loved the explanation they gave on why crime rate goes down and why the boxer, “Manuel” fights so hard. Oh, and how can I forget — Alexandra Trese in a dress!

A Private Collection was written as a Trese short movie that didn’t push through, so there were more action scenes involved in this case. This is probably the one where I saw Trese in her angriest, and the one I felt most nervous because I thought she was about to get beaten. I’m curious now to see how this would translate to a movie — must be really, really cool. :)

But my favorite (and I think everyone else loved this one too) was Wanted: Bedspacer. In this story, Budjette and KaJo gives us a different version of the bangungot. Common knowledge translates bangungot to nightmare, but Philippine mythology equates this to the batibat, a fat spirit that chokes their victims as they sleep by sitting on their chests. However, in this story, the bangungot is a spirit that joins sad people in their loneliness, trying to keep their hearts from breaking by holding it, sometimes too tight that the person dies. There were no hardcore action scenes here, just some sleuthing and a sad revelation when they find out what really happened. I thought this was the one with the best plot, a great resolution, a reference to something that Trese did in book 3 and possibly even hinted a past heartache for Trese. :) This is why when they asked if Trese should get a romantic interest, I’m all yes! Not because I’m a girl, but because I think it would give Trese’s character more depth. I’m not saying she has to have a boyfriend — unrequited love has always been good writing material. :P

Mass Murders is still my favorite Trese book so far, but Last Seen After Midnight truly delivers. If you haven’t read any Trese books yet, well this is the time you should, because you’re missing out on a lot. Is it too early to say “I can’t wait” for the next? :)

My autographed Trese 4 :)

Rating: [rating=4]

Other reviews:
taking a break
I am Pinoy Peter Pan

Reviews of other Trese Books:


Last weekend, I was trying to get into reading Noli Me Tangere for my Required Reading challenge and because it was Independence Day. Unfortunately, I was having a hard time getting started — it is one of our National Hero’s masterpieces written during the Philippines’ Spanish era, so the language was a bit dated. I had a hard time getting into the book so I perused my shelf for something easier to read, but still Filipino because like I said, it was our country’s independence day.

So I said hello to Alexandra Trese again. :)

I can’t remember who told me about the Trese series — I probably read it in one of the many blogs I’m following. Since I was on a mission to read more Filipino work last year, I knew I should read it, even if I only bought myself the first copy. I got it, read it in an hour, and liked it but never got to review it. I even met the authors during the Metro Comicon last year, but I’m not a comic girl, so I wasn’t really that interested, or starstruck, unlike some of my friends were. Fast forward a few months later, after getting the next books and discussing graphic novels with Ariel (who gave me Books 2 and 3 for Christmas), I finally cracked them open.

Trese # 1: Murder on Balete DriveTrese # 1: Murder on Balete Drive by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo
Publisher: Visprint
Number of pages: 104
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

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 comic book series about Alexandra Trese, a bar owner who also works as a paranormal detective helping the Manila police in solving the weirder crimes that happen in the metro. Each book has a series of shorter stories inside, where we see Trese find the criminal through her contacts in the paranormal world. As it’s set in the Philippines, Trese’s paranormal contacts are all from the Philippine mythologyaswang, duwende, tikblang, etc.

I remember reading the first book last year and being impressed — it was very nice to read about something I know and grew up with given a different twist. Trese was likeable despite her very cold demeanor, and she immediately joins the strong female leads that I have read about in other books. I do find her a little bit too perfect in this though — perfect in the sense that she knows everything and she does everything right. I would’ve wanted her to mess up a bit, but that may be too much for me to ask in the first book.

The cases were interesting, and they tread carefully between the line of paranormal and horror (is there a line there? Not sure). I liked how it related to what I know as a Filipino, but not in the classic, dated sense. I liked that the story was set in places in Manila and how they were updated to the current times. No deep dark forests or remote provinces were the creatures normally lurk here, for sure. It’s fun, and thankfully not scary enough for me to really freak out, you know?

Yeah, I know, I’m a big chicken. :P

On the international front, I think Trese would be able to hold its own with a bit of limitation. I don’t think it’s very hard to understand, but I think the mythology would take some time to get used to and would need more research for a non-Filipino reader to understand. It’s easy for me to wrap my head around the creepiness of Balete Drive because I live here, but for someone in another country, I’m not sure if the creepiness factor would be the same. Still, I’d like to see how non-Filipino readers would view Trese.

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