Comics Review: Mumbai Confidential, Book One

Mumbai Confidential
Book One: Good Cop, Bad Cop
Written by Saurav Mohapatra
Illustrated by Vivek Shinde
Additional Art by Sid Kotian, Saumin Patel, Vinay Brahmania and Devaki Neogi
Design by Howling Monkey Studio
Edited by Rebecca Taylor
Production Manager Scott Newman
Introduction by Ron Marz
Archaia Entertainment
Release Date: May 8, 2013
Cover Price: $24.95

Mumbai Confidential begins at its climactic finale. Tough-as-nails Heroic-cop whose Fallen-from-grace, Arjun Kadam stares down the barrel of a gun. Flashback to when this case began a few weeks before when this case began. Flashback again to five years before that to when Kadams Fall began. Set in Mumbai, Indias most populated metropolis with a notorious criminal underworld, this is story that tattoos its hardboiled tropes on its sleeve.

Illustrator Vivek Shindes art lovingly evokes grim and ultra-serious pulp fiction. Every page, every panel looks like it should be on the cover of a trashy paperback found on a rickety wire rack 50 or 60 years ago. The color is so washed out that all you can see is the grit and grime on the page. Fans of David Fincher: this book is for you.

I won’t go into to much detail about the story, except to say I inhaled it in one sitting. It’s pretty gripping… except I felt pretty empty at the end of it all. I tried figuring out for myself why and here’s what I think: Saurav Mohapatras‘ script shows off, as I mentioned, an abundance of hardboiled elements… maybe to much, or maybe it’s just not off-set by anything else.

There’s an abundance of plot twists and beats that I felt like I called long before they hit. More then that, though; it’s just so dreary it’s almost hard to take the hero Kadam seriously. Except for the sub-plot involving our hero pining for his past and the inciting incident that kicks the case off there’s not much that makes him compelling. It’s joyless and humorless enough that it was distracting for me. That Kadam’s a smoker who constantly laments that he should quit is apt for the story but it’s also an annoying quality people have in real life, know what I mean?

I’m no expert when it comes to life in Mumbai, never even been to India. Maybe there are qualities about that world that Mumbai Confidential captures that I’m not getting. I’ll totally own up to that possibility.

The Afterward by Mohapatra goes into some of the history and research the creative team researched to enrich the story. And it does look like a rich history indeed. The full title of the book is Mumbai Confidential Book One: Good Cop, Bad Cop. I’m interested to see where the creative team wants to take Book Two.

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