Aditya Shergill was part of a special ops unit that was sent to take down a terrorist cell in the Kashmir Valley. The operation goes bad, leaving most of his squad dead and Aditya with one less arm. After rehab and treatment, he’s sent back home to Delhi to live with his sister, her husband, and their child. Aditya is adrift and without direction, but tragedy may yet give him purpose.
Can a superhero origin comic justify a slow narrative by focusing on character development and interaction, even if the nominal hero doesn’t suit up in the first lengthy installment?
I’m unwilling to say no, but I’m also reluctant to say that Rakshak #1 accomplished this objective. This first issue is slow beyond reason, and its admittedly great character set-up doesn’t redeem the glacial pacing.
Aditya is a solid character with believable problems. His sister and niece are great characters, and they have good chemistry. Rakshak’s world is refreshingly filled with genuinely kind people instead of bitter and/or distant people. The intro in Kashmir does a good job to capture the complexities of modern warfare and the War on Terror specifically.
The war segment does have its own problems. It’s arguably too long, and it establishes way too many characters to just throw out the window when it’s time for Aditya to go home. Plus, it throws around a few racial slurs without “earning” them — for lack of a better word.
On top of this, some dialogue is shaky, and some of it has obviously been translated imperfectly.
Above all else, it is the slowness and unending dialogue that truly sinks Rakshak’s narrative, though. The rest of this could arguably be justified if it just gave more in the realm of story.
Pramit Santa’s artwork is solid. It is highly detailed, environments are fleshed out well, and characters are adequately expressive. There are plenty of scenes that are without dialogue that are carried by the storytelling power of the art. Faces do look oddly wide at some angles, but that problem isn’t that impactful. Prasad Patnaik’s color work is effective also, fleshing out this world with a well-balanced palette.
Rakshak #1 has so many good ideas behind it and offers some of the best character building and development I’ve seen in a superhero comic. However, the pacing and other minor problems unfortunately sink this first issue. That being said, there is enough promise to justify giving the second issue a chance, and I will at a later date. Unfortunately, that still leaves me unable to recommend this first issue.
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