Created by Shekhar Kapur
Devi is an Indian super-heroine goddess reincarnated into the body of an ordinary woman. She is in eternal battle with her brother, the god Bala, and his servants. Much of this book takes place in the mysterious city of Sitapur, a modern city built right on top of its ancient predecessor. In that complex city, secret battles have always taken place, battles that are completely missed by most people.
The city of Sitapur is intriguing. Its architecture is bizarre, with the past and present literally juxtaposed on top of each other in unpredictable ways. In the reader’s first view of the city, in a scrupulously detailed two-page spread, the city seems to have a complex and multileveled feel to it that seems to speak to its long and diverse history. We see crowded markets and multileveled housing alongside sculpture and old houses. Mukesh Singh does a great job of bringing this exotic city alive.
Singh also has a passion for detail that rivals George Perez. There’s a long scene that takes place during a procession through Sitapur in which hundreds of people are marching. Singh does a terrific job of depicting the crowd, giving those scenes a tremendous sense of scale. It really feels like hundreds of people are marching, and when the crowd goes a bit crazy, the depth of field makes the story feel spectacular.
Hey, tell me if you heard this before, but the villain of this story is a beautiful murderer. Yes, it’s a cleverly original idea, isn’t it? Kratha is cold-blooded and skimpily dressed, beautiful yet deadly, and is out to kill our heroine. It’s frustrating to read story like this where the setting is so exotic and yet the villain is so dull. I guess clichés are universal.
The book is also weak in that the title character doesn’t appear for much of the book, and when we do see her, she doesn’t do much. The woman who would become Devi spends much of the issue in a dreamlike state, visited by other gods and goddesses in a series of scenes that also seem clichéd. Devi doesn’t appear in her heroic incarnation until nearly the end of the book, and she appears a bit of a literal deus ex machina. The really frustrating thing is that Devi actually seems like a fairly interesting character. Her anger at the end of the issue shows an interesting sort of ambivalence at her role, and hints at some intriguing complexities. Hopefully readers will get to know her better in book two.
I loved spending time in the exotic city of Sitapur, but the adventure there wasn’t nearly as original as the setting. Too bad, because the setting was really quite intriguing.