MANILA -- Hundreds of old and new comic book fans trooped to Comic Odyssey at Robinsons Galleria over the weekend for the signing of the New Agents of Atlas #1 from Marvel Comics that hit the shelves of comic book shops last Wednesday, May 8, all over the world.
A variant cover of the maiden issue of New Agents of Atlas that is tied in with the current War of the Realms event features the first-ever Filipino superhero in the Marvel Universe, Wave, as drawn by Pinoy comics illustrator Mico Suayan.
When the announcement was made about the character who was jointly developed by American writer Greg Pak and Filipino superstar artist Leinil Francis Yu, the country took notice as it came at a time when the world was gearing up for "Avengers: Endgame."
And the result, is a runaway bestseller.
According to Sandy Sansolis, owner of local specialty shop Comic Odyssey, he ordered 4,000 copies of the Suayan-illustrated cover and during the Saturday, May 11, launch and signing with Suayan at the Robinsons Galleria, the title was close to selling out.
“On my part, it is the best-selling comic book ever,” he quipped.
“Normally, a best-selling title sells for about 400 to 500 copies, but the excitement surrounding the character has generated a lot of interest,” related Sansolis. “I was looking at the orders coming in and they were from all over the country. And about half of those who ordered are females with many of them first-time comic book buyers. It’s good for comics and good for the character in general.”
“And I noticed from the orders than there weren’t fans buying multiple copies. These are fans getting one for themselves and this is a really encouraging thing. Because it creates interest for the medium.”
Sansolis’ son, Nick, added that Comic Odyssey also received a lot of inquiries from regional comic book retailers. “This is literally a big thing,” said Nick. “But we have to make sure that the local fans get their hands on a copy.”
Celeste Clemeña is new to comic books. She previously bought a Wonder Woman comic that depicted the Amazon heroine in the Philippines, but she has never collected a comic book. Wave, who she learned about in social media, will be her first.
“As a fan of the Marvel films, I felt proud that they were creating a Filipino character,” said Clemeña.
She found her way to the Comic Odyssey Facebook page and immediately pre-ordered a copy of New Agents of Atlas. “There is this sense of pride about having a Filipino superhero in Marvel Comics. I hope that eventually, they include the character in the films,” she said.
Twenty-three-year-old Nicki Roque came into the book signing dressed up in a homemade Wave costume making her probably the first cosplayer of the character.
“I’m a newbie comic book fan. I got in because of the Marvel films and I asked if there was a Filipino character. My boyfriend said that there was one being developed and I got really excited. I just had to get a copy," Roque said.
“I think Wave is a perfect representation of the Filipina.”
The costume took three days to create at a cost of about three thousand pesos. “I don’t know if I am the first cosplayer to do Wave, but that doesn’t matter. What is cool is having our own superhero in Marvel Comics.”
Comic book fan Danry Ocampo was the first in line as he entered the mall at exactly 10 a.m. Suayan began signing comics at 1 p.m. Four hours later, the line was still kilometric.
“I was very much excited about this,” said Ocampo who makes it a priority to pick up works done by Filipino writers and artists. “It is a proud moment for me to see a character like Wave this finally happen.”
Wave though isn’t the first Filipino character in comics. Filipino-American creator While Portacio had Grail in the popular 1990s series Wetworks, and Stone – both for Image Comics -- which was more related to local mythology.
For Jay Ignacio of alternative rock band Da Pulis, who himself is an avid comic book reader and collector, the character is just right.
“We’ve had a lot of Filipino illustrators in the international comics business since the 1970s, and having Leinil and Mico work on this character is just right. Am looking forward to the further development of this character,” he said.
Noted Marvel Comics fan Jiggy Cruz waxed emotional about the event and the character. “In my opinion, the 22-film Marvel Cinematic Universe is the best-film viewing experience. And then you throw in Wave as well as Leinil and Mico into the mix, all I can say this is a great time to be a fan,” Cruz said.
Suayan was in the United States when he received the call up to illustrate the cover.
“This is something you don’t even think of twice when asked to do it. You say yes. If you’re busy, you clear your schedule. And I really put in a lot of time and love into the illustration. This is a dream of lifetime for myself and the Filipino comics fan,” Suayan said.