Thanks to the "Spider-Man" movies, fans world wide know the origin of Peter Parker, the phrase "with great power comes great responsibility" and the thrill of watching Spider-Man swing on a web through Manhattan. But what if there was an entirely different origin to Spider-Man, one not located in the United States and set in a country of over 1 billion people?
Back in June, CBR News told you about an entirely different take on the Spider-Man with "Spider-Man: India," a new four-issue series coming from Gotham Entertainment to the Indian subcontinent. The comic will also be published by Marvel in America, coming this November.
"It is one thing to translate existing US comics, but this project is truly what we call a 'transcreation,' where we actually reinvent the origin of a property like Spider-Man so that he is an Indian boy growing up in Mumbai and dealing with local problems and challenges," Gotham Entertainment President & CEO Sharad Devarajan told CBR News in June. "I have always believed that the superhero relates to a 'universal psyche' already firmly established in India through centuries of mythological stories depicting gods and heroes with supernatural abilities. This project is the true culmination of such a synthesis allowing us to interweave the ethnic & mythological themes of India into Spider-Man's very origins and powers." Click here to read more of our interview with Devarajan.
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"A huge part of the fun with this project is that there's a kind of dual enjoyment, depending on your background," Barber told CBR News. "If you live in India, you get the thrill of seeing Spider-Man reinterpreted in your own culture and in a local setting. Those of us who don't live in India get the excitement of seeing both a brand-new take on Spider-Man and we get to see a setting we're probably not that familiar with.
"It works really well either way. I mean, it's not a sociology term paper or anything--this is real slam-bang super hero action--but (to me, anyway) it's fascinating to see Spider-Man representing (to some degree) the idea of a society based in ancient traditions coming to grips with the 21st century. This is certainly an idea with special relevance to India, but it's a totally accessible concept for an American audience.
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Barber noted that absolutely none of the comics content differs between the American and Indian editions, outside of advertisements. The American edition will include a glossary page, which defines certain Indian idioms used by Pavitr Prabhakar and Meera Jain. In India, there are plans to publish the book in Hindi and other languages.
"Spider-Man: India" is plotted by Jeevan Kang, Suresh Seetharaman and Sharad Devarajan from Gotham Entertainment, who translate and publish Marvel Comics in India. In fact, Kang's doing more than just plotting as he's also writing the dialog, penciling, inking and coloring the book. On the editing side, Barber and Gotham's Devarajan handle those chores, sending notes back and forth between each other and Kang, just like any other comic they might edit.
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"Spider-Man: India" hits Indian newspaper stands in October, a few weeks before the U.S. publication hits stands. CBR News imagines that shortly after the book arrives in India, over-priced copies of the Indian version will land on eBay to satiate completists out there.
"Right now we're doing four issues, here and in India," continued Barber. "It's a self-contained series, but one that could very well act as a springboard for future stories. We'll have to see how reaction to the book is--in India and the U.S.--before we plan any further.
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As for the possibility of seeing Indian versions of other Marvel Characters. Barber would only say, "You never know what the future will hold…"