INDIA AUTHENTIC 11: HANUMAN
Written by Saurav Mohapatra AND Drawn by Swapnil Singh
Published by Virgin Comics
HANUMAN is the newest entry in the India Authentic line from Virgin Comics, bringing tales from the rich culture of the Asian continent to the West. Written by CWR’s own Saurav Mohapatra, HANUMAN tells the story of the deity that ‘is the most admired, respected and held with the most affection of all the deities in India Pantheon of 300.000,000 gods and goddesses.’ (Yow! And I thought the Marvel U had an excess of mutants!) In western terms, he’s looks like a cross between a monkey and He-Man, but with more muscles -if that were even possible. Issue #1 tells a grand, sweeping tale full of mythic elements and melodrama, with more than a few similarities to western/European mythologies, showing that we’re not all that different when it comes to telling tall tales. The climax involves a variation on the old adage ‘if Mohammed won’t go to the mountain, the mountain will go to Mohammed.’ It’s a fantasy full of swords and sorcerers and will feel quite familiar to those well read in the genre.
Outside of being part of the India Authentic line, there’s not much beyond that to distinguish it from any other swords & sorcery book. You have kings and princes, all introduced in the midst of a great battle. One of the princes falls when he becomes victim to treachery. Once the treachery is revealed, the title character goes on a quest to save his friend. Pretty basic stuff, really. If anything, the visuals in the book are what give it a distinct feel, with a colorful palette of purples and reds to give the drawings a lush quality. The hero’s journey takes him across a mythical land with panoramic vistas and strange creatures, sure to capture the imagination of a ten-year old reading of this character for the first time.
My biggest problem, though, is in the plot, the conclusion of which I’d rather not give away as it is the hook to the whole story. I will say this: if the voyage to the mountain -where the solution to the problem can be found – takes so long to make, then there’s no way the hero would have been able to make it back in time to save his friend, especially considering what he carries with him. But of course, this is a mythic tale and like many of its ilk, will have its plot holes for the sake of inducing gasps.
The book reads like a child’s fable, and I guess this would make it an ideal book to introduce younger readers to Indian folklore, but the Virgin line of books has always slanted more mature. So I fear that if the book is intended for younger readers, it may not get to them.