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Bayani and The Old Ghosts #1 (first issue is free) by Travis McIntire of Caliber Comics is the coming of age story of a young boy named Bayani and his quest to save his village. It’s the first installment of the series, which is called Bayani and the Nine Daughters of the Moon. With thirty days of unending sun and no rain, it falls upon Bayani to save his community from the certain doom a drought can bring to a fishing village.
McIntire does not just allude to this doom though. Unlike your usual all-ages fare, there are be repercussions in this universe. According to the narrator, “Food is drying up. Water is disappearing into the hot, heavy air. People…are dying.”
With the stakes so high and consequences so real, Bayani and The Old Ghosts #1 is an enjoyable story for any age.
Making Bayani a young boy is more than a narrative choice. It’s makes sense within the context of the story. Bayani has the optimism of youth behind him. In that respect he is far more prepared for the tragedy that awaits his village. As a child, he is not burdened by what the future holds. Yes, his father is dying. That does not mean, though, that he will throw his hands to the heavens and ask for help. Nor does he think twice when ghosts or gods command him. It’s all par for the course. It is the absurdity of it all that makes Bayani work. The question becomes: why would such a strong community need Bayani to save them?
It is culture steeped in mythology. There is, however, a sudden lack of faith in the face of adversity. This disconnect with the villagers and their beliefs is the driving force for young Bayani taking up the cause. It’s their lack of faith that could be the cause of their problems in the first place. It will take the faith of a young boy who believes in the old ways to save the adults who have forgotten them.
The title Bayani is appropriate and its namesake has roots in Filipino mythology. The term “hero” is one Westerners are familiar with. It is generally defined as a character with almost supernatural like qualities. They may have been born to nobility or suffered a traumatic experience that imbues them with powers. Furthermore, their quests are usually solitary endeavors for individual reasons. The word “bayani” is also is defined as hero, but has a more nuanced meaning. According to the Tagalog dictionary, bayani is defined as “person who offers free service in a cooperative endeavour.” Further research indicates that a bayani is of ordinary birth and standing in a community. Instead of being born for greatness, bayani’s become great through their actions. This is why Bayani the character can so easily shift from average young boy to the heights of village savior. He is not a prince upon the mountaintop who must save the peasants from starvation. He is a peasant and his own family is dying of hunger. How he manages to save the Nine Daughters of the Moon is equally as interesting as how Bayani will navigate this adult world of mythology with his childlike naiveté.
While this sounds like material far beyond young readers, McIntire infuses the story with plenty of humor and levity. In a period of time where we are looking for more diversity in our stories, Bayani and The Nine Daughters of The Moon would make for an wonderful entry point for any young reader. The first issue is accessible in a way that has the potential to pique their interest into new types of stories. The true success of this comic will not be measured in how many issues it sells. It will be in exposing people of all ages to a wealth of new stories not previously seen in Western rotation.
If you’re interested in hearing more from Travis McIntire and his thoughts on Bayani check out our interview with him here. You can also find out how you can support Bayani by checking out his Kickstarter here.
Nick Bennett is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TheTVBuddy
In a period of time where we are looking for more diversity in our stories, Bayani and The Nine Daughters of The Moon would make for an wonderful entry point for any young reader.