Comics have never been bigger: With Marvel TV shows, DC movies, and independent adaptations growing day by day, comics have never been more important in pop culture. This bi-weekly Edge column recommends new and old comic book series whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer.
Tree is one of the most interesting new shows on Netflix, a gritty detective story set in modern-day Manila beset by all manner of supernatural forces. It’s great, but it ends so quickly: the first season has only six episodes. Fortunately, if you’re looking for more of Alexandra Trese, there’s a lot to discover with the books the series is based on.
What is that? Tree follows incumbent Alexandra Trese, a Manila resident who owns a club called Diabolical, but more interestingly, is also something of a consulting detective. Basically, whenever the police officer, Captain Guerrero, stumbles upon a crime he can’t explain, he calls Trese for his expertise on the city’s dark supernatural underworld. She is the link between the human world and the magical world, helping to maintain the balance between the two.
The series is a mixture of genres. It is structured like a police procedure, with each chapter covering a different crime. It could be terrifying – and starving – baby creatures terrorizing a mall parking lot, or a corpse found with a mysterious pot of crushed mermaid bones. These supernatural elements give the story a strong vibe of horror, accentuated by grisly black and white art. The places Trese ventures into aren’t places you’d want to go. It’s not just scary, however, as many stories are tinged with sadness, like a declining actress who will do anything to stay in the spotlight, or a raging fire monster trying to bring back a lost love. There are drag races, zombies and a monster informant who comes from love Chocolate.
For fans of folk creatures, Tree is also a great opportunity to delve into the rich monster world of the Philippines. Not only are they central to the stories, but each issue ends with handwritten notes from Trese’s father, which detail the specifics of various creatures, from the vampire tiyanak to divine creatures who can control fire, lightning or wind. Trese works with and fights against these creatures; almost always she is accompanied by a pair of violence-loving twins who wear spooky masks, one smiling and the other frowning.
If you like stories like Hellboy or Lucifer, Tree should be in your alley.
Who is it from? Tree was created by writer Budjette Tan and artist Kajo Baldisimo.
Where can I read it? If you like the concept (or liked the show) the good news is that there are a lot of Tree books to discover. The series is available digitally through Comixology; the first volume is out now, with the second due on July 21 and the third on September 29. In print, the first two volumes are available now, published by Ablaze, while the third is expected to be released in September.