MUMBAI MACGUFFIN

Mumbai MacGuffin: The Bomb is Back in Bombay
Written by Saurav Mohapatra and Drawn by Saumin Patel
Published by Virgin Comics

MUBAI MACGUFFIN is a fun adventure story following CIA agent Ike Flint on a top-secret mission to recover a downed satellite in one of the most dangerous ghettos in India. Although the plot line is a bit played, the supporting characters are more than enough to garner a couple chuckles and raised eyebrows, and the colorful artwork does an excellent job of snagging the eye.

Flint isn’t the strongest protagonist to grace the pages of comics. He’s supposed to be a CIA spook, but he doesn’t exactly radiate bravado when he steps off a plane and is immediately overwhelmed by over-eager cabbies. Taking the advice of a local, he hires a pre-paid taxi, and this is apparently all he needs to get his rocks back as we see when he smashes his cab driver’s PSP just to get his attention. Must be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

CC, the driver, is a pretty typical sidekick type of character, with his fast talking and assurances of ‘cousins’ involved in every type of business under the sun. He has his entertaining quirks, like his five cell phones with varied ring tones ranging from ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ to ‘The Macarena.’ His dry commentary on why the residents of Mumbai aren’t keen on Americans at the moment, one of the reasons being Paris Hilton, also earns a smile.

Shortly thereafter we meet Fukku Bhai, a creepy, badass gangster/businessman who is a deadly shot and apparently does not like to be pointed at. His dependency on a wheelchair hasn’t affected Fukku any more than it did Franklin D. Roosevelt, and though his potbelly hangs over Western-style gun and holster like blobby monolith, it doesn’t deter from his commanding presence. His only concern is turning a profit with as few complications as possible, and he’s not afraid to resort to sneaky tactics or mow down anyone who interferes.

As Flint proceeds with his mission he meets more eclectic characters, including religious zealots who worship the shiny, metal, penis-shaped satellite, trigger-happy Jihadists and double-crossing Russians. Naturally Flint begins to realize there is more to this mission than he was originally informed, and what began as a simple search and retrieve becomes a battle for his very survival.

The art is bright and busy; exactly what one would expect in a comic book rendition of a bustling Indian slum. Sharp, detailed lines give the characters definition and depth while allowing them to flow into the next panel. The colors make the art pop off the page and give it the right amount of pizzazz without overwhelming the pencils. The large, splashy letters introducing all of the main characters is a classic and festive way of imprinting the names of the important players onto the reader. Plus the blend of English and Hindi dialogue gives the book a distinctive voice and authentic feel.

This isn’t an original story idea and Ike Flint certainly is no Jack Ryan, but the motley crew of characters, the occasional one-liner and the ability to make fun of itself buoy MUMBAI MACGUFFIN enough to deliver a fast-paced and pleasurable read.

Avril Brown