Devi is one of two launch series from the mind of Virgin Comics' Chief Visionary Shekhar Kapur, a man best known in America for the Oscar-nominated film Elizabeth. Kapur actually grew up in India, where he released a film that still has a strong following fifteen years later called Mr. India. Growing up in India, Kapur was exposed to comics in a different way than Americans (and was indeed, influenced by them). There, comics were hugely popular and were quite often based on Indian mythology. While they didn't stay popular, just like American comics, Kapur believes that Indian comics have huge potential.
Shekhar Kapur, from the back of Devi #1:
"The success of the Indian Comic Book and it's related offshoots will come not from copying manga, but from using the base of existing Indian Mythology and Art Form, and creating a unique product that has international appeal. Just like Manga did. I know of no other culture so rich and diverse in Mythology as India."
So, with that philosophy in mind, we are introduced to his first comic from Virgin. The script is by Siddharth Kotian with art by Mukesh Singh. The other launch series from Kapur, Snakewoman, debuts next week, with another series by John Woo and Garth Ennis (Seven Brothers) and covers by the likes of Alex Ross (Ramayan Reborn) and Greg Horn (Devi #2) on the way. Virgin Comics seems to be seeking out popular talent and going for quality, but I think something unique like Kapur talks about is needed to make Virgin Comics successful. Other companies (Crossgen, Speakeasy) have attempted international appeal and failed utterly. Time will tell if Virgin will join their ranks, but for now, the debut comic...
Kotian and Singh are not afraid of throwing you in there. Devi begins with a "Story so far" page that explains Devi's back story a little...beware, it's already kind of complicated. And then the fast-pace action introduces us to the war goddess Devi in "man's second century" as she leads an assault on the fortress of demon-god Bala. It's a really well-played fight, showcasing both party's powers really well, as well as their really cool designs. There's no real depth to the characters yet, but given all that occurs in this issue, it's no wonder. The latter part of the issue fastforwards to present day Japan, where Devi's character has gone through quite the metamorphosis and has found a new place in a world that doesn't need her in the way it used to. It's a cool (if not simple) premise, executed quite nicely. This book has a lot of potential, but it does play out like a superhero comic with a little Artesia thrown in for good measure, and in the end, it looks a little too much like Witchblade. It may not have a unique look or take, but it could certainly fit into the world of superhero comics quite snuggly. Whether it turns into something more...well, we'll have to wait and see.