Growing up, I spent much of my time and money on comics. I probably bought my first Nagraj comic in 3rd standard. From there on, it was a quick move to patronizing other legends – Super Commando Dhruv, Parmaanu, Bhokal, Ram-Rahim (of Manoj comics fame). These comics had it all: Wizardry, icchadhaari naags (shape-assuming snakes), sensuously dressed damsels, violence, iconic villains – all elements needed to make a young, impressionable child part from his 10 rupees to buy these fantasy books.
This was a while ago, and most characters and mindless stories I read have since faded. However, there is one comic character I still respect to this day: Doga. Here’s a list of things that make Doga #1:
- He is an original Indian superhero. He doesn’t fly like Superman, isn’t bitten by a spider and didn’t fall into a batcave when young. Doga had a tough childhood, abandoned at birth and raised by strangers. Growing up, he identified himself with stray dogs: orphaned and unwanted. When he becomes a vigilante, he makes himself a dog’s mask, as is ruthless like a dog too. (that’s 10/10 on the awesomeness scale)
- Doga takes no prisoners. He doesn’t want to change the system, and doesn’t want to transform miscreants. He simply wants to eliminate the bad guys, and does it coldly and brutally to make examples out of them. He is the Indian Rorschach.
- Doga the comic weaves stories around social issues. Two recurrent themes are: communalism and corruption. Doga is a cop called Suraj in the day, and through his eyes, the comics captures everyday corruption within Bombay police in great detail. Also, there are many strong Doga comics tackling the Hindu-Muslim divide in India. Read Doga Hindu Hai.
- Perhaps no other Indian comic delves into a superhero’s psyche as much as Doga does. There are dark conversations and monologues he has with himself, when he is overcome by the violence he has himself inflicted, and still finds the reasons he went fighting for stand more broken than before.
If you’re a comic fan, you should pick up a few editions on Doga. You will not be disappointed!