Author: Amitabh Kumar
Illustrator: Amitabh Kumar
Published: 2008 by Sarai Programme
No. of Pages: 27
Raj Comics for the Hard Headed is a graphic novel which gives us a peek into the world of today. The name of the novel has been intelligently and subtly juxtaposed with a motorcyclist wearing a helmet, thus having a ‘hard head.’ The story starts with a motorcyclist, a representative of the common man who is riding his motorcycle on a road he is familiar with, but suddenly senses an uncanny strangeness. In an attempt to comprehend the change and being in a state of utter confusion, he collides with a vehicle and is subjected to threats. He feels like a lone man amidst a sea of passers-by, helpless and stranded.
The strangeness and change that the protagonist experiences followed by the threats is the metaphor used to refer to the crimes and lawlessness that we face as a society. The common man is living in constant fear, today. This is when Raj Comics comes in an as a beacon of hope and positivity. The protagonist is confronted by one of Raj Comic’s oldest Superheroes, Nagraj. Nagraj, tells the protagonist that he is a savior of mankind and that he specializes in tackling terrorists and radical extremists. Subsequently, through Nagraj’s conversation with the motorcyclist, the reader is transported to the world of superheroes created by Raj Comics to tackle and fight back the corruption, violence, wrongdoings, and injustice prevalent in society. The various superheroes and super-heroines that the reader is introduced to, are Doga, who is the ‘brutal vigilante’ of Mumbai; Bheriya, the protector of the forests of Assam; Super Commando Dhruv, the one who assists Nagraj in combatting terrorists and anti-social elements; Parmanu, the superhero who has vowed to wipe-off all criminals from Delhi, Tiranga, a staunch patriot and one who keeps terrorists and cheats at bay; and, Shakti, who represents the simmering ire and rage in women who are victimised and mistreated. It is interesting to note that most of the superheroes also have an alter ego in the form of a common man/woman engaged in various professions, thus making them one amongst the readers and encouraging them to unveil their inner superhero.
Nagraj, the superhero of this comic also tells the protagonist that even though the Raj Comic Superheroes and their roles are not sanctioned by the formal legal system, they can help innocent people because people have immense faith in them and their deeds. Thus, it is the ‘Law of the People’ that encourages them to fight the ‘villains’ and stop them from committing heinous crimes. Finally, when Nagraj asks the ‘hard-headed’ motorcyclist whether he would like to join the league of superheroes and save humanity, he is quite reluctant to take the plunge. This fortifies the fact that most of us are ‘hard-headed’ or indifferent to the sorry-state that society is in, today. And, it is only because of a few courageous ones or Superheroes that we live in peace.
The narrative of our very own superheroes has been beautifully balanced with apt illustrations. The predominant usage of black, grey and yellow is in sync with the storyline. Sudden bursts of yellow, not only break the monotony of monochrome but also highlight important parts of the novel. The illustrations of the common man, the superheroes, and villains are distinct and easily comprehensible, thus, making the story more relatable and engaging.
Raj Comics for the Hard Headed indeed hits the reader hard on the head as he/she is compelled to think of the way humanity is headed, amidst all the hatred and apathy. It reminds the reader that the majority of us, despite being the victims of all the corruption around us, are not willing to bring a change and strive for a better world. Thus, it makes an endeavor to encourage us to get rid of the cowards within us and instead, harness the superhero buried deep in our conscience, waiting to be to unearth.