Tuesday, October 21, 2014

MMA star Brand Vera hopes to attend local Komikon

MMA star Brand Vera hopes to attend local Komikon
by rick olivares

About two months ago, we spoke with Portland Trailblazer Robin Lopez who is an unabashed comic book fan. Imagine our surprise when we learned that MMA star Brandon Vera is another hardcore comic book geek.

When you talk to Vera, you will notice that he peppers his sentences with words like “zap” or “send them down with a sickening thud.” Or at times, he will even wonder aloud if a zombie apocalypse will weed out the bad guys so the good may finally claim the earth.

Vera laughs. “I said all of that, huh?”

The 6’2” MMA fighter now with ONE FC is massive comic book and fan of The Walking Dead. “One of the perks of living in San Diego (California) is I get to go to the annual Comicon (Comics Convention that is arguably the biggest in the world).”

The Incredible Hulk is one of his all-time favorite characters with the story arcs of Peter David and Bruce Jones as one of his best. You know the saying, ‘You won’t like me when I’m angry?’ Yeah, that’s from the television series of the Hulk, brother. But it’s still the Hulk.”

One of his best friends is an artist for DC Comics. “I love going to the Comicons, man. Reading all that stuff, seeing the Cosplay, the anime… there’s a lot to like. I’m like a kid in there.”

When informed that the November Komikon (this coming November 15 at the Unilab Bayanihan Center along Pioneer Avenue) is the biggest in the country, Vera got all excited. All of a sudden, he didn’t look like this tall and bad fighter but that kid who read the Fantastic Four and Batman while growing up. “I gotta make sure I am here,” he said. “A Komikon here in Manila? This is something I have to see and be here for. This is just mind-blowing. My hair’s standing up (even the ones I don’t have on my head.”

The Komikon is held twice a year in Manila. There’s the summer event and the year-ender that is even bigger. It features many of the works of current Filipino artists working on Marvel, DC, Image, and other American comic book companies as well as many other local independent creators.

Comic books are something Vera and his two other brothers got into as kids and the passion has never left the Fil-Am MMA fighter. When asked how he is able to keep a composed self in spite of being let go by the Ultimate Fighting Championship after eight years with them and going through a painful divorce, Vera simply says points to his father as a source of strength and that “cracking is simply out of the question. I’m a super hero, brother.”

But Vera isn’t one living a fantasy world. His love for the medium (remember The Walking Dead is started out as a popular comic book) opened him up to reading other genres. “Yeah, it’s not simply kids’ stuff. It’s really grown that it can be read by people of all ages.”

He admits to also being a massive fan of the television series, The Walking Dead. “I missed the past couple of episodes because I have been traveling but when I get back to the States, I really have to catch up on what I have missed… Don’t tell me what I have missed…”

Vera says that his two favorite characters are Michonne and Darryl who are respectively played by Danai Gurira and Norman Reedus. Darryl’s so bad ass, man. And Michonne? At first I didn’t like here but she kind of grew on me. She’s now one of my faves.”

“I know I am asking too much and it probably won’t happen but I hope they don’t kill off any more of the characters,” added Vera. “But what a series? It really says a lot about people who remain the biggest danger even in the zombie apocalypse.”

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