Mumbai Confidential is a brilliantly taut and edgy crime noir thriller from the guys at Archaia Comics and the first story arc – Good Cop Bad Cop – is now collected into one volume and available via ComiXology, from this week.
It reads like a sub-continental version of Sin City and has all the best elements of classic crime noir, with twists, turns, violence and corruption, all played out in the grimy, monsoon ridden streets of Mumbai and the glamour of Bollywood instead of downtown LA and the Hollywood Hills.With it’s ultra-tight, inter woven storyline from writer Saurav Mohapatra and with stunning artwork from artist Vivek Shinde, it tells the story of Arjun Kadam and his links to the Encounter Squad – an elite group of Mumbai police officers charged with cleaning up the city, no questions asked – and in particular with their corrupt leader Inspector Sunil Sawant.
They’re like the Mumbai equivalent of Eliot Ness’ Untouchables, only their actions begin to move to the wrong side of the law as the inevitable power vacuum created by the ousted gangsters begins to develop.
Arjun’s life is turned upside down one night when he witnesses a young girl get run over by a hit and run and his life spirals out of control as he attempts to seek justice, opening up a world of corruption and double dealings that see him slowly pick his life to pieces in classic noir style.
With a total of nine issues and a narrative that spreads over 8 years, with each issue featuring 2 chapters, there are enough twists and turns right to the end to keep you completely absorbed right to the very end. As well as the main story there are two interlude issues (3 and 6) featuring other stories connected to the main narrative, but with different artists – our favourite being the excellent House of Cards drawn by Saumit Patel in issue 6 – which lends a further depth to the story and helps flesh out the characters of Mumbai’s underworld.
It also show that Mohaptara clearly has a great grasp on where his characters are heading and as with all great crime comics, when read in it’s entirety Mumbai Confidential is at it’s best, as you can see the plot unfold in front of you in all it’s glory. The plot is masterful and ties together brilliantly and there’s a great chess motif that runs through the whole story, which lends itself to some amazing visuals, particularly in chapter 4 in issue 2 when Arjun is the victim of drug induced nightmares.
These visuals are thanks to the stunning painted images by Vivevk Shindes. His loose, expressionistic artwork evokes Dave McKean and Bill Sienkewicz and gives the book a brilliantly ethereal feel – especially in the bloody shoot outs or monsoon soaked streets, maximising the splatters of the rain and using some really smart layouts to bring together this twisting and winding storyline. His painted styles swirls around the page mixing photo realism with abstract edges into a unique style that really gives the book a suitably mature look and feel to match the subject matter. By contrast Vijay Brahmania’s more cartoony style which we see in the final issue, doesn’t quite suit the gritty tale, although the textured backgrounds look excellent on screen.
A smart, tensely written thriller that really benefits from the sub-continental setting. Mohaptara has a great grasp of his characters and is ably backed up by the stunning painted artwork of Vivek Shindes that gives the book a really unique look and feel. This is definitely a series with the potential for greatness.
Mumbai Confidential – Book One Good Cop Bad Cop is available via ComiXology for £8.99 for the full 9 issue collection or £1.49 per issue. You can also buy a hardcover version of Mumbai Confidential – Good Cop Bad Cop from Amazon by clicking here