How did I get it: The library.
Why did I get it: I’m a fan of Grant Morrison and I love re-tellings of Indian myths. Plus the art for this is remarkable.
How would I rate it: 4 and a 1/2 Stars out of 5 stars.
My Summary: Grant Morrison’s 18 Days is a new take on the Mahabharata or, more specifically, the epic Kurukshetra War that ended the age of the gods and began the age of man. Led by Krishna, his 4 brothers and their soldiers face off against a massive army of other gods and demons, a group which sadly includes their 5th long-lost brother. Grant Morrison provides a script and character guide for the first three episodes of the series he hopes to make while Mukesh Singh provides breath-taking visuals*.
My Review: I really love looking at scripts and this one wowed me almost as much as Harlan Ellison‘s script for his vision of I,Robot which is still the best movie never made.
The scope of Morrison’s undertaking is massive along the lines of 300, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Ragnarok, the Trojan War or other similarly epic battles, but in some ways though I think the story would have been more compelling for me as a reader if this was simply a graphic novel series since I have no idea whether this project will get off the ground or not. A graphic novel would have been kinder in that respect. In addition to that, Mukesh Singh’s illustrations were absolutely, ridiculously brilliant and I couldn’t get enough of them. I still want more of them.
Morrison’s wording occasionally took me out of the moment since some passages were a bit more like notes that actual parts of the dialogue or narration itself, but then again this is a script and a collection of notes in addition to being the start of a story. The book is also quite a hefty tome, more of a coffee table book than something easy to tote around, but this also allows for better images which really, really enhance Morrison’s script.
There are also some problems inherent in re-telling myths and legends in that the fates or destinies of the characters in said stories are sealed. The outcome of all of their actions is predetermined in a sad, almost frustrating way, and the gods, heroes and demons of this Electronic Mahabharata are no exception. Through word and action the script makes it clear that they know what will happen to them.
Now I realize the struggle of a hero or villain against destiny is nothing new and continues to be played out even in mainstream graphic novels today, but it can be somewhat frustrating to read something where the outcome is known to everyone involved and what will follow is simply a playing out of parts with no free agency. In fact the only character who doesn’t seem to care or agree with these conditions is Duryodhana. I suppose someone always has to remain optimistic even if this someone is technically “the bad guy.”** But then he does have an army with equipped with raptors*** so I suppose he has a right to feel cocky.
Still, I want to see what happens, because this is a mythic saga/ important epic war that ought to be more widely read about and needs re-telling. Besides, reading about gods and demons choosing to fight even knowing they will die and bestowing blessings on the story’s heroes that have come to vanquish them is really powerful.
As a fan of happy endings, I prefer reading about the Ramayana, but I am definitely fascinated by the Mahabharata itself and appreciative of the hardwork that went into 18 Days. I, for one, really hope both the myth and this script receives the animated series they deserve because I want to watch it ASAP.