The superhero genre is one of the various genres that have taken a significant place in Indonesian comics’ history. Although Indonesian comics historians and experts have noted that the superhero genre was actually not as popular as silat (martial arts) or roman remaja comics, it does have its ardent fans who fondly remembered the superhero comics for decades. The first superhero character in modern Indonesian comic is said to have been Sri Asih, created by the late Indonesian comic maestro RA Kosasih in 1954. Many other superhero characters had since then emerged, whether in Sri Asih’s time or in different eras afterwards.
With Indonesian comics industry now being on the rise again following a silent period in the 1980s to early 2000s, interest in Indonesian superhero comics also grows again. New superhero characters have appeared while “classic” superheroes are brought back in some ways. It is in this situation that the book 101 Karakter Komik Superhero Komik Indonesia (101 Indonesian Superhero Comics Characters) makes its entry. Compiled by Fery Ferdiansyah of Zoid Comics, the book offers to be an encyclopedic repository of superhero characters from Indonesian comics, old and new. The aim of the book is to increase people’s awareness of the many superhero characters that have graced the pages of Indonesian comics through the ages.
This book has done a good job to show that there have been many superhero characters in Indonesian comics. The list is quite comprehensive and up to date as it ranges from the classic characters of the 1950s-1970s to the ones that have only started to appear very recently. And the list manages to include characters from many different publishers, even the ones from independently published comics and online comics. The character description are quite informative, informing the origin story of the characters, their powers, who created them, when they first appeared, and official site or fan page if available. The choice of organizing the list in alphabetical order is a fine thing, as it would be more helpful to readers who are still unfamiliar with the characters to look for the characters. On the other hand, a foreword from comic book collector Henry Ismono provided a chronological account of the superhero characters.
For more analytical readers, this book can be a helpful resource to observe and track certain trends in the superhero genre in Indonesian comics. For example, readers might notice a recurring trend in the origin stories where the characters become a superhero following the death of family member(s) or a lover. Is this trend an influence from popular Western superheroes such as Batman or Spider-Man who were motivated to become heroes because of the death of their parents/parental figure? That could be an interesting topic to be explored by comic book scholars or analysts. While aspiring comic creators might be able to consider different varieties for origin story so as to not repeating the trend too often and make it boring and stale.
Another interesting thing to observe is how the category of “superhero” can be quite flexible. Some characters that are included in this book might appear more akin to silat warriors with paranormal powers. This could be considered an interesting aspect of Indonesian comics scene, and demonstrates that by nature, the boundaries of genres are not strict and rigid after all.
Despite being quite comprehensive, that doesn’t mean the list is exhaustive. There are superhero characters that are absent from the list. Classic 1950s heroine Putri Bintang, for example, is curiously absent, despite being mentioned by Henry Ismono in his foreword. Some newer heroes like the sentai-like Nusantaranger are also not included.
All in all, this book is a welcome addition to the repository of knowledge about the world of Indonesian comics. As Indonesian comics continue to grow, though, certainly more superhero characters will continue to be created. So, there might be a potential for updates and additions in the future, or in certain regular periods.
This book is a limited indie publication with 222 pages, a dimension of 15x10cm, and all illustrations inside it are printed in monochrome. This book can be obtained for the price of Rp 50,000 from Fery Zoid Ferdiansyah.
The Indonesian Anime Times | by Halimun Muhammad