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JUMP-ing with joy!

18 Aug


Gibba bloog boopaapa bi baap!

This is “Welcome dear readers” in Gobble-de-gook (for learning Gobble-de-gook in just 4.26 minutes contact the writer of this post)

When the last issue of Jump by Level 10 was launched, I was excited and wanted so very very much to review it! Especially the continuing adventures of Shotgun Sharma and Chappan Churi! I got the framework ready, scanned all the images I wanted to use and was all set to write it down, but sadly got stuck with something or the other, lots of office work came through at the wrong time, had a computer problem, I mean – everything that could go wrong – DID go wrong! Damn you Murphy!!!!



Is it a plane? Is it a bird? No! It’s the opposing team!!!

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Khair, when the new double issue was released there was NO way I would let this one pass, so here I am with my first Jump review for Comic Addicts.


For those who have never read any issue of Jump before or haven’t been following the stories, don’t worry, you can still go ahead and buy this one. This one wraps  a lot of things, so you can read the “Story so far” and then continue. You can always catch up with the old issues later.


When I opened the packet, I was very excited. It is a double issue pack (well… due to the fact that Level 10 forgot to launch it last month, so 2 issues were clubbed together!!! To be fair, we were told about this beforehand, so they escape the gallows this time). It is a seriously thick issue with the usual high quality pages and print quality – this one time, I got drenched in the rain with Issue 7 in my bag and the whole thing was wet, but the ink did not bleed, colors were steady, all I had to do was to let it dry and it was good as new.
 

Shaurya Cover – The times they are a-changin’

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For a 100 bucks it is a seriously good deal. Personally I won’t mind waiting 2 months if Level 10 can release this kind of issue every 2 months. Plus you save 20 bucks on the deal as 2 single issues would be 120! It has some 105-110 pages in total – don’t ask me for I have NO idea why don’t they put page numbers in comic books these days!

The cover is by Deepak Sharma who has done a brilliant job, as usual, with a bold letter ominous looking “Bye Bye Bangalore” written on the front face! For the uninitiated, this is a play on words signifying both the finale of The Rabhas Incidence and the shifting of base from Bangalore to Mumbai for Level 10!
Rabhas Incident – The final solution?

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The first story is the last episode of The Rabhas Incident. After a great spell lasting 8 issues, Rabhas has finally ended. For now! We are placed right in the middle of action where Col. Rafeeq is trying to get out of the city, trying save the last handful survivors. They encounter various hurdles and overcome all odds to try and reach the light at the end of the tunnel. The story moves to another set of people who are in the city for a completely different motive, and all these stories move individually towards a collective end.
Run for your life!!!!!

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As for the end, it is as unexpected as it can be. Rabha’s has been my favorite story of the lot by far and I am seriously hoping that “The End” on the last page is not really THE End. I would love to see it returns and continue either from where they’ve left it or even start a completely different arc. Whatever you do, don’t let go of RI, Level 10! I can start a signature campaign if that is what would make you continue!

A bonus feature in this issue is a detailed discussion about the covers of The Rabha’s Incident by none other than our fellow Addict – Mayank Khurana, who has given a brief history of the old covers of RI. You have to read it to enjoy it! I can’t really explain it in a review. Just check out the old covers of RI on Level 10’s website or their Facebook page and you’ll know when I’m talking about.

After The Rabhas Incident we move on to the 9th Volume of Shaurya, the bunch of young kids with extraordinary powers who are trying to save the world while trying to save themselves from an evil society Ah-Nirvan, which is trying to exploit them for its own selfish reasons.
Waiting for the news – Jay can’t handle the guilt anymore…

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The Gang was in the middle of a skirmish in the last issue, ambushed by the antagonist and his goons, Sid was hurt, chaos everywhere. The story starts bang in the middle of the action. Sid gets better – on account of being a robot with healing nanoites working their technological magic on his body er… armour… suit… whattchamathingy you wanna call it – someone else gets hurt badly. No. I am not going to tell you who (or should I say whom?), you have to read it to find out.

We are taken from the action to a more serious atmosphere where the hurt members are being treated and Jay is feeling guilty for having been duped by the Baba (Yes, there was a Baba too. See – you’ve missed a LOT if you haven’t read the previous issues, so go get them first Or wait. You can get that nice season 2 pack that’s being offered by Level 10 now!).
Oh Boy. You can NEVER guess who THESE guys are!!! Not on your life, unless you’ve read it already! Boy-oh-Boy! Woo.
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Anyway, so the whole story – from the first issue till now – is converging to an exciting end now.  Shaurya also ends in this issue – but at the point it was cut off, it is almost certain that it will continue in the next season. Or it should, if I have read the signs right. My only complaint was with the ending. It was a nice twist, but was a little clichéd and could have been implemented a little better. Maybe there were hints about this ending in the previous issues, but honestly, if there were, I don’t really remember them.
All-in-all, a pretty satisfying end of the chapter, and however clichéd it was, the end DOES promises to be interesting in the next release!

Finally after devouring these two stories, the Galactus in me was still not satisfied and my Silver Surfer found a new planet that had the capability to quench my never-ending thirst!
Cover: Batu Gaiden

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It was a small peaceful planet, inhabited by peaceful residents, all of them sportsmen, some students, some former players, some teachers, some caretakers all of whom have one thing in common. Love for Cricket… Woops. Kree-Kaht!

This chapter of Batu Gaiden is also, as usual, excellent. Some fantastic art work by Xong Bros. with the usual humor, manga action and excitement and a superfast pace. I can’t, or rather won’t talk much about BG, it’s still ongoing and trust me – You don’t want spoilers. You want to go and buy this one, or maybe just order it from Level 10’s website.

So you think YOU can play cricket?

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Lot of people have told me that they didn’t like Batu Gaiden, maybe because they can’t interpret the Manga in an Indian environment, or maybe they couldn’t comprehend the concept of Kree-Kaht in the oh-so-stylish Manga style – India is very sensitive about Cricket, you see, but say what you may, I found the story, art and the concept pretty entertaining and I wouldn’t mind seeing more Manga and certainly more Batu Gaiden in the future issues.

Oh, before I forget. There is another brilliant surprise inside this issue.
Bodyline! Gentlemen’s Game? Surely not…

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2 single page funnies! I am trying to convince the good folks at Level 10 to let me put up those funnies with this review, but if they don’t… Well… What the hell, I’ll just scan and upload it.

That’s all for now folks. 

Have a good one. Or should I say… Goo baa dda lla lal addo book!?          
Take a shot at THIS Dhoni!

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Rajat Reviews Alibaba and the Forty Thieves – Reloaded

21 Jul

Imagine the old country of Arabia with sand dunes, camels, blood thirsty thieves, a treasure cave, probably the first ever use of encrypted password in recorded history, theft, murder, trickery, dance, seduction, cleverness, victory and happily ever after and you will have the image of a story that everyone must have heard at some point or the other in their lives, in some form or the other.
I am, of course, talking about Alibaba and the Forty Thieves. It is a tale which has been passed down since time immemorial by word of mouth, from father to son, mother to daughter, from teacher to student until someone printed it and spread like wildfire all across the world. No one knows when or where did it originate, nor the actual author of the story, but it is as familiar to all of us as Aladdin, Cinderella, Snow White, Superman, Batman and the likes.

Alibaba and the Forty Thieves Reloaded cover
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Now image the busy streets of Mumbai with crowded roads, cars-bikes-auto rickshaws, blood thirst politicians-businessmen-criminals, a business-rich sea port, technologically advanced security vaults, theft, murder, trickery, dance, seduction, cleverness, victory and happily ever after and you will probably have just a little idea of what’s in store for you in this Classic: Reloaded by Campfire!

I am, obviously, talking about Alibaba and the Forty Thieves – Reloaded.
 
Written by: Poulomi Mukherjee

Art by: Amit Tayal

Published by: Campfire


This story is similar in bare bones to the classic tale, but Poulomi Mukherjee has given it a brilliant twist by placing the story in contemporary India, in the city of Mumbai. 
 

The city of Mumbai – Welcome to the Jungle
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It is the gripping tale of Alibaba, a kind and decent Auto Rickshaw driver in Mumbai, who works hard to make his living and to make ends meet for his son and himself. He is living with his Brother Quasim and his – eh …dare I say evil – wife and works hard to make life easy for his Son.
Ali’s Brother and his Wife (Brothers’ wife, of course)
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One day a stranger boards his Auto and gives him an insane amount of money to drive him to the docks at a breakneck speed. Showing good old earthly common sense(which ain’t really common at all) of suspecting people who are giving you money for no good reason, he followed him and found himself right in the middle of a twister, that takes him on a roller coaster ride and changes his life forever.

The art work has been done by Amit Tayal, who is a very talented artist. We saw his work earlier in The Swiss Family Robinson and The Three Musketeers, and he has surpassed himself in this one as well. Personally I just love the way he draws his characters. He gives it a nice bright touch and even his evil foul villains are made to look interesting only by the magic of his pencils. I, for one, have great expectations from this young one, and can’t wait to see more work that he delivers in the near future.

The marker on the door – remember that?
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 On the whole, it is an excellent adventure and even though you know the basic story, it serves only as a framework for this book and the twists and turns will keep you turning page after page and then leave you wanting for more even after you’ve turned the last page. It is an extremely pacey storyline and does not slacks even for a minute at any point. The references to the classic story and clever homages to the original are a treat to watch. Some bits were expected, others hit you like a jack-in-a-box.



Fortunately, or unfortunately, I can’t really tell you anything else about the story without actually revealing the plot, which in any case, you already are familiar with.


You will have to go ahead and buy this one, but trust me, Dear Readers, this is one graphic novel you will not regret investing into. Yes, you heard me. Investing. Not buying. For it IS an investment. You can read it today, give it to your parents to read, your kids will read it tomorrow and if you are a good book keeper, even your grand kids can read it and still enjoy it 30-40 years from now, just like I did it today.
“They all look the same to me!!!”
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My only complaint was the book ended a little too soon, especially compared to the other releases by Campfire, but to be fair, since the story was over and everything was already taken care of and explained clearly, stretching it would just have been a senseless gesture.

So what are you waiting for? Log on to the Campfire website and place your order NOW!!!

Marjeena dances the dance of death!!!
Click on the image to view full size – I bet this pic will get the maximum hits!

Rajat’s Random Ramblings – Ravanayan Begins…

1 Jul


Comic Addicts has done it again. In an unprecedented move, we are doing, probably for the first time in India, a pre-release review of one of the most anticipated book this summer, Ravanayan.

This has only been possible with the cooperation of Mr. Vivek Goel the owner and the chief artist of the Holy Cow Entertainment, who was futuristic enough to realize the way cookie crumbles. Other Publisher friends… Ahem. We are waiting… Our public DEMANDS pre-release reviews!!! 😉

Anyway, as always, I get distracted and wander off to paths unexplored. Let us come back to the task at hand.

One of the 2 covers from Issue 1 – The inner turmoil – Sage Father, Demon Mother
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So dear readers, I was as excited as I can be when I found out that Vivek has finally decided to let Comic Addicts do a pre-release review of his upcoming summer blockbuster Ravanayan and couldn’t wait for it to be delivered. After signing and collecting it from my friendly neighborhood Post Man (he was bitten by a radioactive post during a field trip to the GPO, you see), I went deep inside my sanctum sanctorum, closed all windows and turned off all the lights except that one table lamp and sat down with Ravanayan’s double size first issue in my hands!

The first issue is actually a giant double issue, including 2 covers (YAY!!!) – that contains an awesome surprise! Especially for those who have pre-ordered the book. Good things come to those who wait, so be patient my Young Jedi.

The first cover is a beautiful artwork portraying Ravan surrounded with 9 demon heads (making it a total of 10, obviously) and has been colored vibrantly and brought to life by a young talented colorist Devayu.

The Demon Lord surrounded by his inner demons? Vibrant front cover by young Devayu
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The story begins with an interesting character from Ramayan – someone you wouldn’t even dream of seeing in the story – who is in the middle of an exciting battle, which ends with a twist of events that leave him as confused, if not more, as he was before the battle commenced.


Okay. I guess after reading this sentence you might be as confused, if not more, as you were before this sentence started! 😛

Go on. Be confused. Make wild guesses. Threaten me, if you will, but I ain’t gonna give you any details about what happened or to whom. Nor am I going to reveal the slightest plot, because my dear readers, this is a book which you should own. There is no fun in just listening to the story or even reading it. You have to hold it in your hands, and watch the beauty and the magic brought alive by a team of young and extremely talented bunch of artists.

Kapow!!! An eye for an eye? I say aye!

The art for this issue has been done by Vivek singlehandedly. The special first part of the book has been colored by none other than our talented Mr. Pugaonkar. Incidentally this is the first storyboard that Yogesh has colored. Up until now he was being used exclusively for covers and promo arts. I must say going by the detail in colors and effects that he has done an impressive job here too. Not totally unexpected, mind you. He has obviously raised our expectations from him and might have to go even more extra steps to satisfy our hunger for awesome art now.

Catch me if you can… The Mace and the Face
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We now move forward, leaving our bewildered character and all you bewildered readers behind – er actually, we will be moving backward in time. WAY back. A time before life became complex, before the world lost its beauty at the hands of man and demon alike, a time when things were simpler, easier to understand and adapt.

A time when 4 siblings were young, restless, happy and innocent. The chapter starts with a view of an Ashram in the middle of a jungle. Ravan, Kumbhkaran, Vibheeshan and Shoorpanakha are leading a peaceful and fun filled life in the Ashram, far from the maddening crowd. We are introduced to the 4 kids who are as similar to each other as they are different.


If we look back and refer to the original scripture, Ravan was the brilliant one, a Maha Pandit, a scholar and a warrior who had no equal. He conquered all the realms, beat even the most powerful Kings and ruled Lanka with a golden fist. Firm yet fair. His only downfall was his ego.


Vibheeshan, in the original story, was a kind hearted gentle man who detested violence and strives for peace. He is also sensible and level headed and has the head of a patience and logical man. He is the first to realize the consequences of facing a powerful warrior like Ram and also that when facing a superior opponent it might make more sense to compromise rather than fight and loose everything. His folly was poking at Ravan’s already inflated ego by telling a warrior of his caliber to surrender before another warrior, which not only antagonized him into sending his own brother in exile but also made him angry and mad. An infuriated warrior is prone to make mistakes, and so did Ravan.


Shurpanakha is the brat, who wants it all and goes right to her brothers whenever she doesn’t gets what she desired.


Kumbhakaran is the sloth and all he wants is to eat and sleep. Relatively simpler character out of the lot.


Alright. End of the lecture. Now that you have read this and revised your Ramayan facts, its time for you to forget all of them and be ready for a new outlook.


Yes, you will see familiar names, places, events but they are familiar only in name. In Ravanayan, you will experience new flavors to the same characters. Each carrying an aura of the familiar persona we mentally associate with them, but it is only a very small aspect of their personality.


All these characters have been drawn from the scratch, given life to and made to wear new clothes as well as new personality by the good folks at Holy Cow Entertainment.


The bond between the siblings, right here, forms the crux of the entire Ramayan and I’m sure that it will have a very important role to play in Ravanayan too.


We are introduced to a young Demon Lord who is just a kid right now, but already has the streaks of greatness, albeit tainted with an inherent darkness.


A quiet little boy, wise beyond his years, trying to look after his family and always striving to do the right thing.


A young brat of a girl, who is the apple of the eye of her brothers, who are ready to do anything and everything for the sake of their little sister.


A slothful, lazy boy who loves nothing more than sleeping and eating. No major surprises here, for sure. Or at least not at this point. Who know what will happen to young Kumbhakaran in the issues 2 to 10?


And as promised earlier, I ain’t gonna tell ya the story me hearties, am I? Hehehehe. Should have realized by now!

Terror in the Jungle… Young Demon Lord with his siblings
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This Chapter 1 has also been drawn by Vivek and has been colored by Komal Surale. The art is as intricate as always and Komal has done a pretty neat job. Especially in this particular breathtaking action sequence full of blood and gore and a fantastic fight!

The effects for this issue are pretty good, although not really breathtaking, except in a few places. This might be due to the fact that all the art for Ravanayan 01 was done several months ago. Since then, however, all the young artists and colorists have come a LONG way. I have seen some samples of the future issues of Ravanayan and trust me boys and girls… If you think that the first issue is good, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

All in all, excellent script, very catchy, doesn’t get too slow or preachy at any point, except probably the first 2 pages, and keeps the pace even and steady all across the issue. The characters are well defined, given a very new and different aspect, despite the intense familiarity which any Indian child who was conscious during the 80s would feel with these characters. Ravan, Vibheeshan, Kumbhakaran and Shoorpanakha are familiar to all of us and thank to Ramanand Sagar’s turtle paced Ramayan television series a lot of us would have a pre-conceived notion about these main characters as I have already discussed earlier, but Vijayendra Mohanty manages to expertly dodge the comparison by keeping them distinctly different flavored yet bearing the same roots from the original epic.

It is a team of very young and talented artists, most of whom are working for the first time on a professionally published comics, and that is saying a lot. In fact, a little birdie told me that Holy Cow has worked with 9 virgin writers and artists already for their next few publications! Keep it up HC, we need the support of all our publishers to promote young and raw talent!

A sneaky peaky at things to come – keep watching this space!!!
Click on the image to view full size




Art work is excellent, much better than Were House, and as I had mentioned in my Re-Review of Were House, the type of art Vivek draws needs color to be able to express itself completely and become what was desired in the first place. The scenes and the places are very well drawn, the anatomy of characters is well proportioned and the best part is that art and story go along hand in hand at all times, without one leaving the other behind to seek individual glory.

THIS is what makes Ravanayan a book to take notice of. At the price Holy Cow has declared, this is a bloody bargain. If you like mythology, history, fiction, war, battles, kings, magic, fantasy, horror, gore or any other genre, this is a must have book in your collection.

And guess what? This is just the first volume!!! There are several more to come from the House of the Cow!! Moooooooooo!!!!

I urge thee, wait not, pre-order on Flipkart or just call Dial-a-book and get hold of this one before it goes out of stock. Watch out now, the day of reckoning is upon us and Lord Ravan is about to take over the world!!! Excellent comic, entertaining and fun to read and leaves you salivating and wanting for more. After I flipped close the back cover, the first thought that popped in my head was – Holy Cow!!! THIS is how mythological comics are done…

I am Kalki – The Silver Book – a review

21 Jun

After I got the book in my hands, I decided to first re-read the Golden book to refresh my memory in case there was any continuity involved, but since the Golden book was only a Preview Title, there was little or nothing in the way of a story line. This is particularly helpful for people who don’t have the first book. You can simply pick up the Silver Book and start from here. It all starts here!
The overall art work of the book is excellent and the print and paper quality meets the standard Vimanika has set for them in the industry today. I was a little surprised to find no artist name for the book, I am sure many people would be interested in knowing the artists behind the amazing artwork.

“I am Kalki – The Silver Book” Cover
Cick to view high quality image

Anyway, I digress. Let us come back to the matter at hand.  I am Kalki – The Silver Book starts with a small synopsis and jumps right into the story. The tale begins with 5 elemental Gods – Varuna, Vayu, Agni, Bhoomi and Indra – gathering on Earth and blessing a Yagya which is being held for some very special purpose, being conducted by the 8 Maharishis from our Indian mythology, spearheaded by Vishwamitra. The introduction of the Gods is very impressive in terms of Art and Effects and also includes a stunning 2 page spread of the 5 Gods jointly blessing the ongoing Yagya.

Indra and Agni
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 The 5 elemental Gods blessing the grand Yagna!
Click on the image to view it in all it’s high quality glory!!!

Post a small discussion between the 8 Great Sages, the story shifts to modern contemporary India, where a businessman has brought his 3 kids and his 8 month pregnant wife in a farmhouse / orchard in Eastern UP. Incidents lead to a spectacular event which will probably change the world as we know today. Nope, I ain’t telling you what happened. You have to buy the book to find that out. It can easily be ordered from Flipkart or Dial-a-book or just ask your friendly neighborhood comic store to get it for you. Oh, I almost forgot, we also witness the rise of a mysterious demon king from the depths of hell, a corner where even the most vicious demons fear to tread! Its turning out to be damn exciting folks, so pick this one up!!!
The rise of the mysterious demon
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All in all, a pretty neat package. my only real complaint is that I would have expected a little more story in the book but the start is exciting and the story is varied and keeps you hooked. Deepam Chaterjee has kept a good pace and has done a pretty neat job of intertwining Indian mythology with our current – modern world to deliver a script that looks full of potential and hope.
The Birth of a God!
Click to view the high quality image

 Slight disappointment over the story ending so soon, but I guess that’s a credit to the script as well, in a way, as it leaves me wanting for more. Although for 80 bucks I would have liked to read a few more pages of story. Vimanika makes up for that, by including full page character sketch (fully drawn and colored) along with the actual history, albeit mythological, of the 8 great sages. But I would definitely have preferred more story in the book. That is the only area Vimanika needs to cover the ground in, apart from that, Kalki looks like a good book and The Silver Book is an excellent start to what will, hopefully, be a grand adventures of a Modern God!

Oh, wait. Almost forgot. There is a very cool poster free with this book too, so those who were apprehensive initially can forget that and buy it now.

Free poster with I am Kalki – The Silver Book
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PS: Another tiny suggestion. On the credits page, the names have been printed in a very dark grey color, against a jet black background, which kindda makes it hard to read. Just take care of that. I am sure, like me, most fans would like to know the names of the people who have worked hard behind any book, and their names should be easily readable. Just my two cents…

Durvasa Rishi to the Left, Chayavana Rishi to the right and Vedvyasa in the middle
3 of the 8 great Sages.
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