Writer: Shamik Dasgupta
Artists: Abhishek Singh, Ashwin Chikerur (colors)
Publisher: Virgin Comics
Even though (translated literally) the Ramayana means "Travels of Rama," this issue is not just the story of Rama but hundreds of major and minor characters. The same is the case with Virgin Comics’ futuristic interpretation of it; as the previous issue focused on a few of characters, so does this issue. In addition, the developments here also tie the events of the previous issue with the main storyline, and quite nicely at that with both the writing and the art.
As stated previously, the focus of this title is not on Rama (or for that matter Lakshman), at least not directly. It is instead on their remaining two brothers, Bharat and Shatrughan, the sons of Kaikeyi. Speaking of Kaikeyi, she too makes a return to Ramayan 3392 AD and although not as repentant and in poor shape (as her "original" Ramayana counterpart was after King Dashrath’s death), she does seem to be a bit down in the dumps. Then again, given what she did to her step-sons, it serves her right.
As for her sons, Bharat was captured by the Asuras while in battle and is being held while his captors try to crack his DNA and make an Asura clone of him. It has been months since his capture and all during this time the youngest of the four sons of Dashrath, Shatrughan, has not only been evading capture but also doing all he can to try and rescue his elder brother. However, while he has completed the intelligence gathering for such a venture, he doesn’t have the firepower or for that matter the fighting skills to pull it off. Cue the arrival of Sumantra, his daughter Mandavi and a few of the choicest Kshatriya rebels. Together, with Shatrughan’s knowledge of the Asura stronghold leading them to the weakest (and thus most ideal) spot to attack, the small group free Bharat. Along the way they lose quite a few fighters against the Asura soldiers and especially against the big-bad of this issue.
A point here. In the original Ramayana, Mandavi (i.e. Sumantra’s daughter) was a cousin of Sita. She was also Bharat’s wife. It was interesting to see the twist that writer Shamik Dasgupta has given to the dynamic between the Bharat and Mandavi of this series. The spark, the chemistry between the two is instant if a bit clichéd. Also, kudos for the totally badass (if a bit too battle-ready) Bharat. I hope to see him grow up (i.e. maturing) as this series progress.
I have read all issues of Ramayan 3393 AD, and I don’t have to second guess myself to admit that visually this is my favorite issue yet. Not only does it possess the fluid pacing that has been a trademark of artist Abhishek Singh’s work throughout this series, it also has a degree of crispness that just lifts the art to a whole new level. Whether due to colorist Ashwin Chikerur or Singh himself, the "finishes" that have been given to the sketches here are something I would like to see being adopted in all subsequent issues.
Conclusion: In my conclusion of my review of the previous issue I had queried "Where is Shatrughan?" This issue answered that question and did so in excellent style.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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