Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ramayan 3392 AD

What might happen if Rama were to wield the Rocket launcher rather than the legendary bow? How would it be if Arjuna were to fire Atlas missiles rather than arrows? How will it be if our grandma were to narrate bed-time stories filled with spaceships and plasma guns?

Well, this is how it shall be- and believe me, it'll be far more thrilling than you can imagine.
Virgin Comics has come up with a new series titled "Ramayan 3392 AD"- a tale composing of Ramayana's pivotal characters in a post-apocalyptic age.

The story is based on the saying "History repeats itself. All events of today had precendents in the past."
The world has been ravaged by the horrors of War, and only a few human socities scattered across the globe, including Armagarh (a pun on Ayodhya) and the mystical city of Mithila, prevail to oppose the monstrous might of the Asuras. commanded by the half-droid half-organic Ravana. Ravana is irresistible and he seeks the power for ultimate world domination- Seetha, the daughter of The Earth, who has the power to give life! Will Rama save Seetha from the clutches of Ravana and bring hope to the dying world?

The world is futuristic with some relics from the past. Its like Star Wars and Ramayana combined, when we look at the World; Inter-Universal Portals, Spaceships, Underwater cities, even thje ability to converse with the "gods"- the world has changed. :-)
Speaking with the "gods" is possible- so this comic, and you'll have to read the book to find out how (I aint giving out the plot so soon).

Its initially a bit uncomfortable, or even embarassing to read Rama saying "I saved your ass out there Lakshman!" (that kinda stuff- not exactly the same), but once you understand that, although it has shades of the original, the context of the original and this one vary dramatically. The original was a depiction of an Avatar of God, and his life on earth as a man.

Here is an example- a dialogue with a double entendre.

This is like any other comic tale, with characters and places bearing some names from the epic. Knowledge of the original is not a requisite, although it enhances your experience if you know the original, as sometimes plots from the epic are seamlessly woven with the story (albeit with some modifications to suit present times) in this ultra-modern masterpiece (For example, Kaikeyi banishes Rama from the Kingdom, not send him away for 14 years, etc etc.)

Not everything has changed though- Vishwamitra is still a sage, Rama is still Blue in complexion (which Lakshman finds odd), while Ravana is still the Asura king. But the comparisons with the original end there. Rama is no God's avatar and Seetha is no ordinary woman. It aint love at first sight for Rama and Seetha.

And neither are Rama's brothers inferior to him, and although a direct comparison is avoided in the story, it can be asumed that Rama is most powerful, though it is never clearly shown (we might expect to find out from the upcoming issues). Bharat is called "The Berserker" and is a mighty giant who wields the Axe with great skill, beheading enemies like we chop vegetables.

The style of narration and panache in the illustrations bring out an unearthly feel to the story, which transports us to another world- yes the world after 1300 years. Furthermore, the illustrations enhance the speed of the narration, especially during the chases and fights (there're some thrilling battles I must tell you) almost making you feel like the characters. Some of the depictions- of the wonder city of Mithila (refereshing eye-candy) and of the terrifying depths of hell of Ravana, even the portrayal of each of the characters is breath-taking. I've read a lot of comics in my time, and to say that this is one of the best illustrations for any comic is an understatement. It has taken comics to a whole new level!
The story never lags- going at a breakneck speed, and after each issue, you are left craving for more, wondering what's next. I'm now waiting for Ramayan 3392AD Reloaded (the 2nd part of the series) like someone waiting at the hospital for updates on status of a loved one.

The Asuras are depicted as a mutant race, fathered by Ravana, bent on killing everything in their path. Ravana, it is said, was born out of an evil union of AI machines and grafted human flesh. He is the result of certain secret experiments performed by an unnamed nation to produce a super being capable of mass destruction. Even if you do believe that nuclear weapons would one day be the ultimate end for this world, all that is discussed in this story about nuclear wars would be dismissed as fantasy by us (for the time-being). The whole series is science fiction and action at its best, and combined with the factor of ancient culture, it is an irresistable package.

Suffice to say that this work is as good as a HG Wells novel. But, as you already know, HG Wells once spoke of Lasers, Submarines and a whole lot of things. Today they are all realities. So who knows- we could see another Ravana?

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