cover image The Mythology Class

The Mythology Class

Arnold Arre. Tuttle, $18.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-80485-542-6

University students in Quezon City receive an invitation to a mythology class, accompanied by dreams of a “ghost lady,” in this genre-defining classic of Filipino comics from Arre (Halina Filipina), released in 1999 to become the first graphic novel to win the Philippine National Book Award, and now in its first U.S. edition. The mysterious Mrs. Enkanta has recruited the students to send enkantos (supernatural beings) that have escaped into the human world back to their own magical realm. Nicole, recovering from a catastrophic grade on her thesis (taught mythology by her grandfather, she didn’t cite academic sources), is the central figure in the crew of students. Each bring unique strengths to their quest, such as an unreliable psychic abilities and ingenuous engineering talent. Guided by Nicole’s knowledge of and belief in Philippine folklore, together they capture giant, hairy kapres; a smelly fishman called a shokoy; and batlike women called manananggals. But their greatest challenge lurks in Manila’s underbelly—aswangs (monsters) bent on awakening the evil snake god Sitan. Arre’s black and white cartooning infuses individuality in both humans and supernatural creatures. Funny banter and visual gags abound (though outdated jokes about a female character’s body and prison rape miss the comedic mark in 2022). Still, this exciting and satisfying adventure, firmly rooted in Filipino culture, is a must-read for its influence. (Aug.)