Angel Ace: The Rebirth
By Chrissie Mata

In the mid-nineties, a small bunch of people were introduced to a darling girl--of the cute-from-the-next-door variety--named Angela Gale. She was the ideal girl: kind, charming, gorgeous, funny and independent. And, oh yes, she could fly. Huh? Angela Gale is the main character in Alamat Comics' latest offering, entitled Angel Ace and she indeed swept us off our feet.

Angel Ace had all the makings of a great comic: an interesting and involving story, a really wonderful main character, the makings of a romance, funny moments and super endearing supporting characters. But then, financing reared its ugly head and after a dismal financial showing after the second issue, project Angel Ace had to be abandoned in pursuit of more lucrative endeavors.

But you can't keep a good thing bottled up for long, so five years later, Angel takes flight once more in Angel Ace: Again.

"It's Manga (Japanese comics) by a Filipino artist," says creator Marc Dimaano, who works at multi-awarded ad agency BBDO-Guerrero. "I read this Manga called Oh My Goddess! and I was fascinated by the fact that you could actually make a love story interesting." This challenge, along with the wonderful artwork for the Manga, prompted Marc to grab a bunch of copy paper from in between magazine pages, folded and stapled them and started drawing a girl with airman's goggles who was floating. Angel Ace was born.

Angel Ace: Again is actually the second serving of the Angel Ace series. It first came out in 1995 with what is now called the "blue issue" which introduces Angel, her surrogate father Gregor, her love interest Mike the serious and dreamy journalist and his goofball video game-freak best buddy Ripley. The nice thing about it, despite being a pilot issue, is it drops you right smack into the action so you were in the thick of things at once. It was then followed by the "red issue", which featured two side-stories Night Plight and Hunter's Heart which zeroed-in on erstwhile enemy Kai, a ninja assassin, and Rip.

Then came the funding menace. The first two issues where a financial failure so Angel lost her backing. In search of good Pinoy comics to market in the States, Alamat decided to include Angel Ace among the chosen few. While the international scene has yet to bite, it was not a total loss, because Angel Ace flies once more in Philippine skies. And this time, it's got more action partnered with more Manga-ish art plus a cuter Angel. Instead of continuing where he dropped off, Marc decided to start with a clean slate so it's issue #1 again. New readers don't have to worry because you don't have to have read the previous Angel Ace series to enjoy the latest helping. Angel Ace: again #1 starts with the blue issue also but this time, it's presented as a four part series (for purposes of financial viability). A lot of new things will be happening, such as shocking revelations, and we could also expect an Angel Ace origin story somewhere in the future. And Mike might finally persuade Angel and Kai to visit the Philippines, so imagine Angel and Kai eating fishballs and isaw (barbecued pork or chicken intestines).

This time around, Angel's stronger and even cuter and she has more fight scenes. Marc also believes that she has more heart, so she's more emotional this time around. Especially since her relationship with Mike will be made more obvious. Then, there's her antithesis Kai who is broody and dark. She follows a strict Ninja code and she takes guilt seriously. Kai does have a goofy side though, and it is Angel who brings out that goofiness. The character creation of both girls were inspired by other Anime personalities. Angel, Marc says, could be likened to Kenshin of Samurai X who's cheerful, a bit goofy and very kind. Kai is more like Ninja Scroll's Kagero, the dark ninja girl.

One thing you might want to look for in the back issues is that transitional issue between the 1st and 2nd series, Lone Wolf and Cherub, the white issue of the 1st series and issue zero of the second series. It features a back story on how Angel and her foster dad Gregor got together. It's action-packed and really cute, with Angel presented as a young girl who can't even speak English! Don't bother searching for the blue and red issues though, they're out of print, so you can consider them collectors' items.

On the whole, if you're searching for a new comic series which combines fun, romance, action, mystery and a bit of the fantasy for a good measure, check out Angel Ace. Not only will you get a visual feast, but it is a satisfying read as well. To quote Marc Dimaano, "It's Angel Ace for the year 2000: so she's bigger, better, stronger, faster, and cuter." Get ready to soar!