Writer: Shamik Dasgupta
Artists: Dean Ruben Hyrapiet, Parag R. Godse (colors)
Publisher: Virgin Comics
“Yeah, but the book was better.” Raise your hands if you have either said, thought or at least heard this line. Used usually in regards to a movie/TV interpretation of a book, this comment is the bane of any literary work making its way to the big (or small) screen.
A while back Virgin Comics announced the (proposed) movie making of one of its titles, The Sadhu. Not only will it star Nicholas Cage, I believe he is either going to direct or produce the film. I am a regular reader of The Sadhu and wouldn't mind seeing it made into a movie. However, after reading Virulents (thrice already), the first such done-in-one offering from the still new comic-publisher, I am more interested in a movie based on this story than any other Virgin title, ongoing or mini-series. Moreover, I feel that (if done right) this is one story that would come out better on the big screen than it did in the print form, which is already kickass.
The story of Virulents is essentially the story of a night. Set in the early days of the U.S. led invasion of Afghanistan, the "living" cast here is a ragtag group of soldiers comprising of both Indian and U.S. soldiers. While the U.S. soldiers are on a search and rescue mission, the Indian contingent is there for something more secretive, not to mention (potentially) destructive. However, that particular subplot doesn't factor significantly until towards the end of the story and even then it comes across as more of a built in Deux Ex Machina than anything else.
Speaking of the main plot, although not particularly high on the originality scale, it does have enough to set the groundwork for the character depictions and interactions, two things which are the real stars of the story. Whether it be the U.S. team leader or his Indian counterpart, or even the de facto negotiator-peacemaker, every character has a distinct voice of his own. No character comes across as "forced." Even brash and (in hindsight) foolish actions such as running off after the remotest chance of finding a fellow soldier have a valid justification and reasoning for them. The soldier sighted is the younger brother of the one who abandoned his post and ran towards him. Too bad, familial ties didn't save the elder brother and others (both Indian and U.S.) from getting set upon by the Virulents.
The rest of the story is your usual "against losing odds" action-stuff but, once again, done with some well placed and played out character moments. My personal favorite occurs when the Indian Captain, a devout Sikh, uses his turban as a makeshift rope to get to and save the U.S. Major, the same Major who had on more than one occasion made rascist and derogatory comments against the same turban. (Just a tidbit of information, Sikhs highly revere their turbans.) Apart from a bit of general knowledge this tidbit will also (hopefully) help the uninitiated in understanding the reactions of the Sikh Captain (against words such as "raghead").
The ending is an eerie one, which I hope is used in the movie adapation, when/if one is ever made.
Conclusion: First of all, those of you still having your hands up, please put them down. Secondly, just so I don't finish the review without revealing the identity of the villain(s) here, i.e. the Virulents, they are a "species" of terrorist, Vampire Terrorists to be exact.
What did you think of this book?
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