"With great success, comes endless Knockoffs".
(with apologies to Stan Lee).
In 2004 Marvel expanded its localized franchise of its corporate logo (Spider- Man) created an India version of Peter Parker's alter ego. Making the jump with our favorite wall crawler are all of the major characters, including: Peter Paker as Pavitr Prabhakar; Mary Jane as Meera Jain; Uncle Ben as Uncle Bhim; Aunt May as Aunt Maya; Norman Osburn as Nalin Oberoi; and Flash Thompson as Britisher, Flash Thompson.
In issue #1, Pavitr received his spider-powers from a mysterious avatar who has been haunting his dreams. Meanwhile local businessman Nalin Oberoi ordered the destruction of Pavitr's village because they protected a mysterious talisman with mystical powers. Upon acquiring the talisman Oberoi morphed into a Green Goblin-like creature. True to the U.S. version, Uncle Bhim dies (while rescuing a woman from a mugging) and sets Pavitr on his "with great responsibility..." course of destiny.
As this issue opens, Pavitr is, as usual, being razzed by Flash, who makes a crack about Pavitr's Uncle Bhim. Unable to control his grief, Pavitr pitches Flash through the classroom door, only to be caught by a teacher, is sympathetic with the grieving teen, and nabs Flash for detention. Irritated, the cricket coach drafts Pavitr for his team, as Flash (who was his star pitcher) is now unavailable to him. At night, Spider-Man patrols the city, helping those in need, and Pavitr learns that without his Uncle Bhim, things are starting to get tougher on the home front.
Meanwhile Oberoi's demonic powers have mad him both stronger and driven him completely around the twist. He learns that a millennia ago there a horde of demons pillaged the countryside until a warrior prince arose to vanquish the demons and restore order to the world. Further, Oberoi discovers that young Pavitr Prabhakar is this generation's salvation, and he sets his sights on destroying the teen. To do this, he calls this tale's Dr. Octopus (for some reason the character is unnamed in this issue), but he physically resembles Doc Ock, and is in fact transformed into a six-armed demon by Oberoi and sent to attack Pavitr.
As we get deeper into the legend of the Indian Spider-Man and learn more of the back story of Nalin Oberoi we see that this book is going to be more steeped in mysticism than his U.S. counterpart, and that saddens me a little, as I could really do without it. Still, I understand that Indian life has more random mysticism in it than U.S. life, so I'm willing to put my own prejudices aside, and allow the story to develop organically.
As with issue #1, the artwork is quite good, as is the writing. As an old-time Spider-Fan, I'm really tickled that the legend of Spidey can easily be adapted into not only other venues (Spider-Man 2099, Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Girl), but other cultures as well. I can only wonder with the (apparent) success of this international outing will Marvel be more willing/interested in transmuting Spider-Man into other cultures as well. One can only suppose that time will only tell.
Just because I'm a Spider-Fan, doesn't mean that I'm willing to endorse everything Spider-related (I never warmed to the Japanese Spider-Man stuff, and passed on the Spider-Clan version as well), but this time around, I think that this local version will work better as it remains close to original version while incorporating local color and traditions. It is early, but I really liked this incarnation of Stan and Steve's most famous offspring.