Circa 3392, the world as we know it has turned into a dystopian landmass of terror and hopelessness. Only two warring continents have survived to tell the tale, Aryavarta to the north and Nark to the south. It is said that history is always written by the victors and Ravan, the tyrannical ruler of Nark, intends to do exactly that by conquering Aryavarta and the last of the human race. The only obstacle in his dream of world domination is the nation of Armagarh, the one where human civilization has reached its zenith and is home to four warrior brothers, Princes Rama, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan.
Ramayan 3392 AD is reimagined from the great epic ‘The Ramayana’ and presented in graphical form which tells us the story of Rama, his journey through trials and tribulations, his relationship with his brothers and his devotion to keep the sovereignty of his people intact. He is depicted as a level-headed and pragmatic person to Lakshman’s reckless and devil-may-care persona. The duo loses a battle to the Asuras (demons) and Rama is exiled from the kingdom as a result. They are guided by the divine seer Vishwamitra in a quest to rescue Seeta, the Mithilan princess who holds the key to mankind’s salvation. In another story arc, a war-thirsty Bharat is sent to another part of the kingdom to defend their territory and he becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that has the fate of Armagarh on tenterhooks.
The graphic novel is a completely different experience from the original as the characters, the situations and storylines receive a major overhauling throughout. The amalgamation of old wisdom with new technology, coupled with anthropomorphic creatures and bio-engineered demons creates a mystical atmosphere that is beyond the realm understanding of the current age. Created by Deepak Chopra and Shekhar Kapur, the book is a post-apocalyptic saga of heroism, courage, fall from grace and redemption.
What immediately catches the eye is the cover art by the Will Eisner award winner Alex Ross (known for iconic JLA artwork). The artwork on the inside by Abhishek Singh and Satish Tayade is just as good with elaborate illustrations but only for the first half of the book and tends to be simpler for the other half. The story building by Shamik Dasgupta is excellent but the writing is amateurish and lacks punch. The quality used for the paper is marginal and this might be its undoing as much of the art is smoky and dark and it is difficult to see most of the darker elements. Either the colours should have been lighter or the paper should have been shinier. Maybe the people at Graphic India kept it that way so that about 200 pages could be printed and bound without hurting the pocket but imagine the hurt of the artist whose creation is left underappreciated because of restraints beyond his/her control.
Ramayan 3392 AD #1 is a good start for rekindling excitement in mythological figures for young children but whether it can become a must-have in your graphic novel collection is something that only the subsequent issues can answer.