Writer: Shamik Dasgupta
Artist: Satish Tayade
Published by: Virgin Comics
“Oye, yeh kya hai?” That was my first reaction at this month’s Ramayan 3392 AD. Translated into English it makes for the equally short and direct, “Oi, what is this?” And that was just at the first page; forget about the ones following it. Maybe it was my reaction at seeing (there’s a pun here somewhere) the artwork here or maybe it is just the lasting effects of Batman #663. Just thinking of that continental train wreck makes me cringe, a cold shiver running down my spine. Thankfully, even though the start of this sixth issue of my favorite Virgin title was reminiscent of it, both in writing and the art, as a whole it worked out much better than Grant Morrison’s, well, whatever it was.
Seeing as I have started my commentary with the artwork, I’ll depart my usual format and deal with the visual half first. Even though I started by comparing to the snuff-porn styling used in the aforementioned Batman issue I’d like to clarify that there is no CGI here, just a damn too dark n’ hazy techno-painted look. As to what I mean by techno, it will become clear to anyone who sees it. Interestingly enough even as I was scratching my head trying to discern what was that I was seeing, another thought crossed my mind. I thought of a recent issue of another Virgin title, Devi. Even though the stories have no relation to each other (heck, even the conditions couldn’t be different), for some reason while viewing the inner sanctum of the Rajmahal (King’s Palace) of Armagarh in this issue of Ramayan, my mind wandered to the Devi-fication scenes from Devi #5. While I would give it a point for setting up the ambience of a "bad going to worse" Armagarh, I would at the same time take two away for going overboard so much so that the reader will just about give up on trying to understand it.
Now onto the story itself. Even though it is relevant to the main story and ties into it quite well, doing its bit of consolidating the base/past, this issue has no Rama, Lakshman or for that matter Sita. Granted the two brothers get more than one mention (as also their siblings, Bharat and Shatrughan), but they aren’t seen physically, not until the last page when only one of them appears. Instead we learn about Armagarh’s past and how things came to be the way they are, for the humans, the Asuras and the various other races populating the world as it is in 3392 AD. Starting in the near future (i.e. some unspecified time during or after the 21st century), the issue shows how the world literally blew itself up. It is from the ruins of that old world that the new one arose and along with the humans trying to survive and ultimately prosper rose another being, the Asura. Also is explained the coming into existence of the only two major landmasses, Aryavarta and Nark, with the humans residing on Aryavarta (of which Armagarh is a part) and the Asuras on Nark. Just a tidbit: translated into English Nark means Hell. As against their origin in the original Ramayan, the Asuras in Ramayan 3392 AD found their genesis in the actions of the humans.
Conclusion: Even with the artwork not quite working out and horribly so in many places, there is a lot going on this issue right up to the cliffhanger ending. My only question now is, where is Shatrughan?
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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