[The author wishes to make it ridiculously clear that the opinions mentioned below have sprung from his own messed up head & the owners/administrators/co-contributors (one of whom has been mentioned below) of this site do not necessarily support these opinions. He would understand if the said owners/administrators/co-contributors resort to concocting tales of his dementia or of his being a were-ass to counter the bad publicity the opinions below might garner.]
I titled this article as an opinion instead of a review because I believe that reviews are done by people who know a thing or two about comics. Opinions on the other hand are like assholes. Everyone has one and so I qualify! Two things to note before you read. There are SPOILERS and a spoilt comic geek stuck in a thankless job venting his fury ahead. You have been sufficiently warned.
I learnt to never judge a book by its cover! You should learn to never judge a book by its review. Read it yourself.
Indian Comics are touted to be in a resurgence mode. The news gladdens the very heart which winces a little when I go through most of the new fangled comics launched recently. Were House is one such book which while not as bad as some other books out there, didn’t turn out as good as I hoped it would. The hype had me salivating like Pavlov’s dog while the actual book made me realize how the same dog felt when Pavlov rang the bell but didn’t deliver the doggie snacks. Bad boy Pavlov.
To be honest, Were House does do a lot of things right. But it also does a lot of things wrong. Let’s take it story by story and then come to the art and other itty-bitty things called details.
Imagine Harry Potter’s entire story coming as a chapter in English medium balbharti textbook. How if Mr. Tolkien had crammed the entire Lord of the Rings saga on a paper napkin? Point is that every story needs a different amount of time to flourish. When one has just about 8 pages to tell a story in, the plot should be simple with a maximum of a couple of twists. In Guardian Demon, (MAJOR and I mean MAJOR SPOILERS) we’re introduced to a peaceful village that is destroyed except for a single survivor who is then saved by a were-leopard who he then nurses back to health and later trains under till he’s capable enough for being presented before a goddess who grants him power before he and his mentor venture forth to an ancient temple where they fight off an army of henchmen prior to taking on the main villain, a warlord, who gets pissed off at them and fights them to the death but not before he kills the boy’s mentor and leaves him all alone again!
I shall give you a much needed pause and some visual relief.
A visual representation of what happened to the Guardian Demon!
Click the image to view full size
The reason I scrunched the entire story in one sentence is to prove my point that a story with so much happening should not have been told in a single story. Don’t get me wrong. I think the plot had a lot of potential. Akshay could have pulled out a 10 issue maxi-series out of this single story. He would then have been able to bring the story alive and create characters we all could have loved and cared about. The way it was rushed didn’t allow me to relate with any of the characters. I didn’t feel sorry for the protagonist’s loss, get taken aback when the leopard was revealed to be a lycanthrope or be astounded when he met the goddess. All of them just happened and I was an uninterested viewer. The main villain (Mayur is it?) didn’t even instigate a yawn. Forget about dread. The plot as I said was promising but was too rushed and certainly out of place in a book that has horror as a theme.
Simple story? Check. Minimum but effective twists? Check. Goosebumps? A few. Mousetrap is the best story of the lot. I liked it more because of the were-creature! A mouse trapping humans. Even the title is spot-on. Good job Soumya Das. Take a bow. I’m really not in a mood to say good things so let’s move on.
Mousetrap – Plain brilliant
It’s a dog’s death
Shweta, in the write-up following the story, mentions that the story is built up on a fear brought along from a dark, dark corner of her mind. Are they playing Terminator in the theatre in that corner of the mind? Robots taking over the world? Mankind in fear of extinction? Let’s keep the inspiration apart and consider a few logical aspects. I always believed that lycanthropes are shape shifting creatures that change forms as they wish or according to certain cycles in nature. The transformation into were-dhols was permanent. Doesn’t that make them mutants and not lycanthropes? The choice of dhols as the were-creature should have been avoided as they ended up looking as werewolves and not were-dhols. Logically why would humans combine themselves with dogs to survive extinction?
Wouldn’t combining with cockroaches (who have been around since before the dinosaurs) be more apt? Ohhhh…A were-cockroach. Put in a creature as creepy as Jeff Goldblum in ‘The Fly’ and you got a winner.
“Hasta la Windows 7, baby…”
One for the fictional fights T-600 vs Were-dhols or should it be Were-Woofs?
Again, like Guardian Demon, this story too failed to register as a horror story. But the story has a few redeeming points. Unlike Guardian Demon, the story didn’t try squeezing too many elements in the actual story. The back story was spelt out separately in the beginning. Plus the plot of the story that was illustrated was simple and the twist in the end was immensely satisfying.
Art AKA Vivek Goel
The problem with art here is that some frames are mind-numbingly awesome. They make the ones which are not, stick out like Wolverine in a Teletubbies episode. My personal favorite is that of the were-rat dragging the maid’s corpse with her insides spilling out! YIKES. The fight scenes among the were-dhols are also good. However, the two fight scenes in Guardian Demon were not up to the mark. There is inconsistency in the art too. Some panels are very detailed with good amount of attention paid to the background. Others are in limbo and seem hastily drawn. Plus I think the B&W execution didn’t really work out. The effect would have been great for a horror themed book which Were House promised to be but didn’t turn out to be.
God is in the details. Going by that description, many of the new comic book houses seem to be atheists as the details are horribly ignored. An excerpt from Guardian Demon reads, “I trusted her with my very” Very last piece of clean underwear? Another gem comes in the end, “My time is done. You were never always meant to take my place. And you never will.” Huh? Maybe I was never always meant to understand that sentence and I never will!
Ahhh! The joys of clean underwear!
There are typos and grammatical mistakes in a few places in the write-ups. Another grouse is that the flow is wrong at a lot of places. I had to make an effort to figure out what part I have to read first. In many cases the response gets read first and the stimulus comes later. It wrecks the entire reading experience. I know I sound like a grumbling old man and I shudder to think how I’ll be when I am actually a grumbling old man. However all these books are spear heading the comic resurgence in India and while others prefer a lenient attitude, I don’t. One has to get the basics right. I don’t want these guys to run before they walk. I just want them to walk properly!
To sum up…
Guardian Demon : Great plot potential squandered by rushed story telling.
Mousetrap : LOVED IT.
It’s a dog’s death : Inspired plot but good twist in the end.
Vivek Goel : Has to dig deeper in his inner awesomeness.
I DO NOT intend to demean any creator’s hardwork. I just want them to pull up their socks. I am doing my Pavlov’s dog routine all over again for RAVANAYAN. I have full faith that Vijayendra and Vivek will make me go HOLY COW when I see it. All the best. Don’t turn the were-dhols on me or I’ll be like a mouse trapped without a guardian demon!!!