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India Authentic #8: Garuda

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2008
By: Bruce Logan

Saurav Mohapatra
Shounak Jog, Ashwin Chikerur (c)
Virgin Comics
Exclamation: “They should have released this on Mother’s Day!”

Explanation: This is a story about a son’s love for his mother, about a warrior’s duty and how the two co-exist. The son and warrior in this case is Garuda, the avian god from Hindu mythology and the mother, well, it’s his mother, Vineeta. The story begins with Vineeta’s kidnapping by snakes. As part of the ransom they ask for the Vat of Amrit, the immortality granting elixir. The problem is the vat is under the protection of the gods and is stored in a tower built specially for it, meaning it has quite a few safety traps for anyone looking to get their hands on it. Putting his life in danger Garuda gets the vat but his actions bring him into direct conflict with the very gods themselves. It’s only the by the timely intervention of Vishnu, one of the three gods of the Hindu Trinity that battle is averted. Garuda is allowed to take the vat but with the promise that he won’t let even a single drop fall to the snakes. Accomplishing the duties of both the son and the warrior, Garuda saves his mother and the Amrit.

Examination: I am fairly familiar with Hindu mythology, from the Ramayan to the Mahabharata and quite a few things in between. There are about 330 million gods in the Hindu religion (well, that’s how many it’s said to have), and even though I don’t know even one percent of them I do know about the big ones. Going into this issue I knew the name of Garuda and that he was the mount of Vishnu. I knew about his physical features, meaning his having wings, an eagle head and a human body. Other than that, it was a big fat zero.

So, what did I learn here?

For one I came to know about his parentage and if the part about Vishnu’s intervention to avert the battle between Garuda and the gods led by Indra, about why Garuda is so reverent to him (i.e. Vishnu). I also came to know about Nagantak, the Hindu mythology counterpart of Cerberus. As with Cerberus, Nagantak also had three heads and he too was the guard for something important, in this case being the (final step) before getting to the vat of Amrit. However, unlike Cerberus’s dog heads, Nagantak had snake heads.

Even though the India Authentic series might not serve the ‘big picture’ dynamics of various minis and ongoing i.e. each story is independent and all inclusive, they do make for informative reads. ‘Informative’ comics?! Who woulda thought.

As a rule, the mythological stories from Virgin Comics have been, one, sported a painted look, or two, done with a traditional Indian comics’ style (one needs to have read other comics from Indian publishers to know what I am talking about). India Authentic: Garuda differs in the way that it doesn’t have either of those styles. Its artwork has a slick look to it with a rather pronounced ink-work. The colors might be similar to those from other Virgin titles like Ramayan 3392 AD Reloaded but it’s the inks make all the difference. The only negative thing I have to say about it is that in a couple of places the detailed got a bit muddled, most of all in the panels of the battle between Garuda and Nagantak.

Proclamation: As with the other India Authentic stories before it Garuda gives a nice quick introduction to yet another deity from the Hindu pantheon.

You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at http://www.xcave.net



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