parman by david hontiveros

Posted on September 22, 2010


Hey, Uno is very similar to the the babaylan-mandirigma (magical warrior) from the graphic short story in Underpass, which featured four urban-fantasy-horror stories. Click here to read that blog post.

For millennia the perfect warrior has been battling the saitans (minions) of Mangilala, the devil-equivalent of a Mindanao-creation myth. While God Magbabaya went up to heaven to get some Divine Skin for his latest creation made out of clay, Mangilala sneaked in and breathed life into the clay.

Magbabaya ended up with a flawed creature, vulnerable to the influence of Mangilala. Essentially, humanity became the Devil’s minions, too.

Magbabaya sounds like magpabaya (negligent), doesn’t it?

To counter his brother’s power, God created The One, the perfect human covered with an armor-like Divine Skin.

Fast forward to the 21st century, Uno remains solitary, hunting enemies, and woefully ignorant of pop culture. A shadow-master is tearing the souls off anyone unfortunate enough to get in his way. Uno gets in touch with allies from the Shadow-Trading world to find out what his enemy’s weaknesses are.

At stake is a bottle of magic water. What it really is I didn’t get. Hyperbole was in the way.

Again, the writer likes to tell instead of show. But given that this is an action story, it wasn’t too bad. But Uno getting his ass kicked, twice, was. The warrior won eventually, but he does need to work on strategic fighting.

“And Creation’s greatest warrior, Magbabaya’s Right Hand, His Fist, His Powerful and Deadly Sword, cannot catch a breath, his whole body aching, his head pounding.”

I’m not a fan of Hontiveros’s writing; metaphors and similes punctuate every other sentence. But he can craft interesting stories that seem to translate better as graphic novels. I really would love to see more sequels of Parman. The devil character is very interesting, with a complexity of character that would nicely flesh out if developed further. A lonely little boy at heart wanting a brother’s love.

Uno as a character is more enigmatic. Is he that loyal to his Creator? Doesn’t he ever doubt?

Mostly set in the Philippines, drawing heavily on Mindanao and Taosug mythology, this story for me is the most promising of the three Hontivero novellas reviewed here.