If you said Spider-Man, you'd only be half right.
As officially announced by various East Indian newspapers last week and confirmed online this week, the South Asian comics distribution company "Gotham Entertainment" has reached a historic deal with Marvel Comics to publish a new version of Spider-Man in an upcoming four issue mini-series. No, it isn't just a new continuity: Spider-Man is now an East Indian by the name of Pavitr Prabhakar and the Green Goblin is tied to Hindu mythology. To tell CBR News and its readers a bit more about the project, Gotham's President & CEO Sharad Devarajan spoke with CBR News.
"Just to give you a brief background, our company, Gotham Entertainment Group, is the South Asian publishing licensee for Marvel and DC Comics, as well as for King Features, Dark Horse Comics, MAD Magazine and Warner Bros. Worldwide Publishing. The Company currently publishes local editions of numerous American comics in India in English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Malayalam languages.
"Though we will remain true to the underlining mythos of Spider-Man, which is epitomized in the phrase 'With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility,' the character will be reinvented so his powers, problems and costume are more integrated with Indian culture. Unlike the US origin, which is deeply rooted in science, the Indian version is more rooted in magic and mythology. This version of Spider-Man will gain his powers from ancient mystic in order to combat the evil threat of the Green Goblin, who will also be reinvented as a modern day Indian demon from myth.
"The project came about through a number of dialogues my colleague Suresh Seetharaman (Gotham's co-founder and COO) and I had with Marvel, discussing ways to enhance our existing publishing program of American Marvel comics. We discussed a number of ideas including having the US version of Spider-Man make a trip to India in a comic series. However, the one that really excited us, was the concept of reinventing the property specifically for India.
"Certainly, none of this would have ever been possible without the creative vision of Marvel who has nurtured this concept with us from the very beginning and embraced the potential of the cultural integration this project represents," continued Devarajan. "Marvel has continuously pushed the boundaries of comic entertainment throughout the world, often transcending the genre and taking bold risks with the medium. As a Company, we greatly admire their entrepreneurial spirit and are honored to be working with them on this groundbreaking project for India. They have truly enabled one of my longtime dreams to finally become a reality."
Some fans may argue that Spider-Man is already a universal enough character, using the incredible success of the "Spider-Man" film as support for that contention, but Devarajan says there's more to making Spider-Man relevant than some may realize. "I think the core mythology of Spider-Man is very relevant to anyone in the world. He is a universal superhero that in many ways transcends cultures. A modern mythology. In fact as mentioned above, we publish a number of American Spider-Man titles already in India very successfully. However, I think this project offers a very unique way to really make an international hero also a local hero, and have fun interweaving the origin of the character with some of the great mythological culture of India. Also, one if the greatest aspects of people's identification with a character like Spider-Man is the fact that he lives in the real world versus a fictitious city. For Indian readers to see for the first time, this new version of Spider-Man bouncing off rikshaws and climbing local monuments like the Gateway of India will be great fun and hopefully bring in many new readers to experience this great character for the first time."
Looking at the costume designs and movement of the character, as well as the bold nature of the reinvention of Peter- whoops, Pavitr- then you might believe Devarajan was influenced by "Ultimate Spider-Man." And you'd be right. "If we can capture one-hundreth of the incredible talents of Bendis and Bagley it would be a great achievement for us. As far as reinventions go, Marvel's 'Ultimate' line is in a class by itself!"
"The medium of comics are like a movie with an unlimited budget, a place where you can recreate the entire universe in a single page."
While the series will be India exclusive for some time, Devarajan assures American (and those from other countries) that you won't miss out on the series. "I believe Marvel has plans to release the Spider-Man India comic later in the year for American readers to also enjoy."