Thursday, July 20, 2006

Virgin Comics #0

Virgin Comics #0, July 2006, Virgin Comics
writer: Siddharth Kotian & Shamik Dasgupta
artists: Mukesh Singh & Abhishek Singh
colorist: Sundarakannan & Ashwin Chikerur
letterer: Ravikiran B.S.
editor: Mackenzie Cadenhead & Gotham Chopra
assistant editor: Mahesh Kamath

I've managed to slip the surly bonds of the San Diego Comic Con to write this review, appropriately of an issue I received for free minutes after entering the convention last night. Virgin Comics #0 features two tales introducing characters that the company will launch in their own titles later this year. Interestingly, the cover of this freebie is comics page that doesn't appear in the issue, mostly obscured by the highly recognizable Virgin logo. Clearly, the intent is to sell the concept that this company is creating comics, rather than selling the comics on the merit of their ideas.

Fortunately, though, the comics have good ideas on their own, so this sampling is a package deal. Inspired by mythologies from India and developed for the most part by Deepak Chopra, these tales are both well illustrated and handsomely packaged. Con freebies are usually too thin to count as a legitimate comic, but Virgin Comics #0 is definitely an issue I will "bag and board." The first tale stars Devi, an apparently ordinary (yet incredible beautiful) girl inhabited by an ancient adventurous goddess. The otherwise action-packed episode is interrupted twice by text-heavy splash pages of spiritual backstory, which may be interesting for students of Eastern lore, but is generally obtrusive to the tale's fluidity. The clout of those pages is coupled with Devi's husband's thoughts on her transformation from commoner to goddess, which is more effective in establishing the grandiosity of her plight. If only the story didn't end with the tired old "Gosh, now I'm a superhero!" shtick. New comics are often compelled to make this unnecessary commentary/self-parody, if only to set it apart from other titles. Now, in so doing, it becomes the cliche it was trying to avoid.

Although the second tale, "Ramayan Reborn," avoids the superfluous myth-based subtext, the lead's inner monologue chokes pages that could have been just as epic visually. This is a David versus Goliath yarn. I liked it, too.

Very little occurs in this issue, aside from the action and graphic pyrotechnics. Yet, through the characters and overall tone of the two stories, I have a clear impression of what Virgin Comics wants to accomplish and contribute to the industry: like the infusion of Japanese culture into our comics and cartoons, Virgin wants to expose the potential and excitement of Indian mythology to America. Look at this issue's credits. You know my spell check with nuts with that one. These guys are talented. They have something to contribute. And the Con is the best place to break in. And you can't beat the price.

For more commentary on the Con, visit my
LiveJournal. I'm trying to post some pictures but am struggling with my free Geocities site capacity. I might create a Flickr account this weekend to compensate. I think it's called Flickr. Stay tuned.

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