Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sadhu – Awesome Art, Lousy Story

Many would know that Virgin Comics has been running India based storylines in their comics for quite some time now. One of these lines is Sadhu, which was reported to be good. Eagerly I read the entire eight issues that I could get my hands on and found the storyline to be lousy at best.

Which is not to say that the artwork is lousy. The artwork is simply awesome. It is just the storyline that falters.

The setting: The story is set in British India. A young British officer James Jenson comes to India with his wife Tess in search of a new life. However, Jenson is troubled by a haughty superior officer who takes offence when Jenson refuses to follow orders and tries to punish him by taking his wife by force and beating the hell out of Jenson. Jenson escapes into the forest where he meets a group of dakaits and a sadhu who is leading them. As he convalesces, Jenson discovers that he, in actuality is a sadhu, and rediscovers his supernatural powers.

All of this is okay and makes for an interesting setting in which to tell the tale. However, very soon we see that Jenson returns to England to take revenge upon his arch rival. And then the entire story keeps happening in England! If the story had to take place in England, why the hell did he have to come to India at all? What does the India connection imply? The entire question is conveniently ignored.

In the initial few issues, the difficulties that the natives were having in facing the modern British ‘weapons’ was mentioned. It looked as if the struggle of Indian independence would feature. But then it disappeared. Bang! Clear from memory. No mention at all.

So apart from a few brief interludes in which the author glorifies Indian gods and goddesses and sadhus, we don’t get to see India at all.

The dialog: the dialog is rather strange. The author has put in no effort to portray the setting with authenticity. Characters use dialog like ‘don’t mess with me’ which is entirely a modern (American?) phrase. The British circa 1850 did NOT use such language. The comic is full of such stuff.

The dresses seem to be very modern too. There is some effort to portray England of those times but it does not look very authentic. But I don’t know, my only reference is movies I have seen of that period which I hope put in a little more effort at authenticity than this comic book.

All in all, it is a very lousy work. Virgin Comics is merely trying to sell the Indian mystical stereotype which, fortunately or unfortunately, has already been sold millions of times. I wonder if it would appeal to anyone anymore. To add to the irony, they have some real great artists working for them. Such a waste of their talent!


  1. Your comments are appreciated. I had been wishing
    there were some way I could see the comics and now
    can cross them off that list. Thank you!

  2. Glad to see you blogging regularly again.

  3. Honestly speaking I didn't like Sadhu mini series a single bit. When you compare it with Virgin's own Ramayana 3392AD, it has nonsense storyline, Okay-ish Graphics and poorly written dialogues.
    Ramayna 3392AD was the best thing Virgin did (and Raj comics tried to copy the idea in their Nagayana... which is needless to say, was a failed attempt.)

  4. @ Quiz Master - Yes, if I _had_ to choose, I'd choose Ramayan 3392 AD over Sadhu anyday. Even artwork-wise. As for Nagayana, I don't know, I kinda liked it, but haven't read the whole thing so can't say for sure.