"With great success, comes endless Knockoffs"
(with apologies to Stan Lee)
As we all know, Spider-Man, is not only (arguably) the most popular superhero in the Marvel stables, but the company's corporate icon, as well as one of the most recognizable superhero in the world. Thus, as can be expected, the company has spun the character off into as many permutations as humanly possible (Animation, Live-action TV, Movies, books, videogames, etc., as well as three different Spider-Women Spider-Girl, Spider-Man 2099, et al.).
On the International front, Marvel has also licensed country-specific versions in Japan (1978) and The Netherlands (1989). In 2004 it has gone and done it again, this time in India.
All of the expected Spider-principals are in place:
Peter Paker as Pavitr Prabhakar
Mary Jane as Meera Jain
Uncle Ben as Uncle Bhim
Aunt May as Aunt Maya
Norman Osborn as Nalin Oberoi
|Plot:||Jeevan J. Kang, Sharad Devarajan, Suresh Seetharaman|
|Script/Art:||Gotham Studios Asia, Jeevan J. Kang|
The story begins with Pavitr Prabhakar (Peter Paker) experiencing a nightmare that has apparently haunted him since the death of his parents some years earlier. He is comforted by his Uncle Bhim (Ben). The following morning, Pavitr heads to an exclusive private school to which he has received a full scholarship. There he is taunted by the wealthy students, who have nothing better to do than humiliate him because he is of a lower class (and poorer) than the rest of the kids. Also present are Meera Jain (Mary Jane) a girl who is from Pavitr's village, and a friend of his from a nearbyu village (who also seems to be sweet on him).
Cut to Nalin Oberoi (Norman Osborn) a wealthy industrialist who in interested in a sacred talisman near Pavitr's village. Apparently the talisman has mystic powers but the villagers won't let anyone near the talisman, so Oberoi has the village destroyed so he can acquire the talisman which turns him into a Green Goblin-like monster. Meanwhile Pavitr is being comforted by his beloved Uncle who spouts what has become the universal mantra for Spider-Men the world over "With great power comes great responsibility."
On his way home from school (while being chased by a bunch of the school bullies), Pavitr again meets his mystical avatar only this time, while he is awake, and is given the powers, abilities (and red-and-blue webbed costume) of Spider-Man. Pavitr thinks that he has been hallucinating, until he finds himself atop a large building, and subsequently discovers he has the ability to stick to walls, and spin organic webs from his wrists.
While swinging through the city, his uncle comes across a young woman being mugged and rescues her, only to be fatally stabbed. Hearing the scuffle, Pavitr swings in to help, only to realize he is too late to save his uncle, but in time to capture the thugs.
I've been a Spider-fan since 1962, and have a 99 44/100-complete collection, and I was very excited to sample this version of the world's most famous spider. Having read this edition I have to say thatwhile I don't know how well the character was received in IndiaI viewed it as a hit here. The artwork (by Jeevan J. Kang) was top-drawer with the plot by Jeevan J. Kang, Suresh Seetharaman, Sharad Devarajan (all local Indian talent) proved to be faithful to the American version.
I was a bit shocked to see Peter, er, Pavitr, to be sporting hoop earrings in each ear (which I'm sure is less shocking to those living in India). Naturally enough, Spidey's costume has likewise been re-imagined for local tastes and fashions (Meera Jain is also a brunette rather than a redhead, but again, I'm guessing that redheaded Indians are few and far between). Still, even given all of the "alterations" to Spidey, (I'm not so sure about the mysticism angle as part of his origin) but I'm willing to let it all slide and will give the comic the rest of its run the opportunity to win me over.
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.