Comic Books:

Cast # 4
by Jamie Bautista, Elbert T. Or and Ronin Core
Nautilus Comics

A winsome coming-of-age tale that juxtaposes a bunch of teenagers' everyday struggles against the backdrop of a theatrical staging of King Arthur's adventures, "Cast" is honest and sweet in its dissection of high school highs and lows, now on its fourth issue plus a prequel. While there are some stereotypes among the, uh, cast as well as some confusing character designs, the continuing main plot and the attached side stories provide a jolt of familiarity and freshness. One can't help but be hooked by the "will-they-or-won't-they" element of "Cast." Core's manga-style art is great for the material, and the writing is achingly delightful, making "Cast" good for readers of any age, and perfect for teenagers.

Lexy, Nance & Argus:Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll
by Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Bittersweet Comix

Unlike anything else out there, "Lexy, Nance & Argus," which first ran in Pulp Magazine, features the very graphic (read: nudity and very sexual situations) adventure of three friends: the gay Lexy, lesbian Nance and the seemingly straight Argus. This book is not for the undaventurous. A visually elaborate chronicle of Generation X's alternative tribe, the compiled black and white strip is gimmicky and sentimental in parts but is certainly unambiguous in its storytelling. An acquired taste that brims with catchy dialogue, "Lexy, Nance & Argus" is also strictly for adult readers only-a distinction that should be taken seriously. RSDV

Mars Ravelo's Lastikman
by Gerry Alanguilan, Arnold Arre and Edgar Tadeo
Mango Comics

Perhaps the most solid take on the Pinoy superhero written large, "Lastikman" combines some of our brightest creators in a lavishly-produced one-shot that is at once homage and expansion. A self-contained story, this full-color adventure chronicles the stretchable hero's life-saving exploits and delves into his past even as a dynamic new character is introduced amid a cosmos-spanning vendetta. With its sparkplug dialogue and turbocharged visuals, "Lastikman" is classic and yet very modern comic-book fun from great talent, fantastic for more than just stretches.