Most stories, irrespective of the format (movies, books or graphic novels) in which they are told, focus more on the hero. The villain is just put forth as a strong adversary to give the hero a challenge and a reason to exist. Not much is revealed about their lives. Or the parts that are revealed just add to their villainy. We know all the bad things Darkseid did or how naughty a boy Voldermort was.
So when Ravanayan was launched, I was excited. Based on the epic Ramayan by Valmiki (and not Ramanand Sagar as I grew up believing) this graphic novel story arc tells the story from the so called villain, Ravan’s point of view. It’s about time his side was heard.
I picked up the issue with great expectations and Holy Cow delivered the goods. And then some. The main highlight for me was the story. A complex character like Ravan needs a writer who is capable of understanding his psyche and put it forth in a manner that is not defensive. The job is to put forth the story from Ravan’s point of view. Not to turn him in to a hero. A good story gives you a moral. A great story gives you something to think about. I have a gut feeling Vijayendra will end up telling a great story.
After Bala from Nothern Song, Vijayendra has another demon’s story to tell. Looks like he will own this niche. A literal devil’s advocate. I liked the pace and manner in which the story was told. The twist in the initial part was unexpected. I knew of Valmiki’s past and yet was taken aback when the revelation was made. When you know something and yet the writer manages to catch you off guard, it can be safely said that you got a good story teller on your hands.
Moving on to the art. Vivek hadn’t lived up to my expectations in Werehouse 1. Ravanayan has made me raise my expectations from him. The art was amazing. Every panel seems like a labour of love and it shows. The initial fight sequence was especially very well conceptualized and executed. Apart from the illustrations, the angles and poses were also eye catching. The colorists, Yogesh and Komal have done a great job too.
My own real grouse is about Ravan’s look! It is a tremendous improvement from Ramanand Sagar’s version but he looks too much like Geralt of Riveria. For the uninitiated, Geralt is the main character in the mind-blowing RPG ‘The Witcher’ and ‘The Witcher – Assassin of Kings’. But it is just a minor distraction, that’s all. The creators had mentioned that they have taken some liberties with the original script to take the story forward and the two fights in the first issue were part of the liberties I guess. I only hope these liberties are kept to a minimum. There is enough in the original script to provide an insight in Ravan’s motives without taking a lot of creative licenses.
The first issue is to me a tremendous effort. It really set the mood for the issues to come. I look forward to an enthralling story and great art. It might just be as good an epic as the original Ramayana.