Black Mumba is a book I picked up last year through Kickstarter as the noir vibe seemed to be my kind of thing.
Writer Ram V is joined by a group of artists to bring us four short stories set in Mumbai and told through the eyes of a weary detective who has more than his fair share of tough cases.
It’s a Wonderful World with art by Devmalya Pramanik & lettering Tomas Marijanovic
We ease into the book with our world weary Detective desperate to catch a break from the grim world outside his car window and just as he’s thinking of the ultimate escape he’s distracted by a stray dog that is dumped near his car. A grim, bittersweet introduction but it’s an amazing way to show us a character that has the weight of an entire city on his shoulders which even the heavy rains can’t wash away.
Rats in the Dark with art by Rosh & lettering by Aditya Bidikar
The harsh reality of a missing person case sees the search continue in vain until the mearest hint of a clue gives our detective something to cling to. A city with what seems like an infestation of billionaires and rats at either end of the spectrum leaves the other citizens in the city clambering for an existence and the job of a rat killer proves to be more dangerous than anyone could have expected.
Dead Rain with art by Kishore Mohan & lettering by Aditya Bidikar
Probably the darkest of the stories sees our Detective on the trail of a serial killer and there are some gruesome discoveries which even our central character can’t stomach. The scale of the city comes into view again and while the gruesome acts seem to be leading them to the culprit but the truth ends up being far stranger than was expected. A twisting plot and a step up in pace made this feel like a race against the clock which turned out to be much more straight-forward.
The Witch of Boria House with art by Devmalya Pramanik & lettering by Aditya Bidikar
A mysterious house and it’s strange inhabitant brings a much stranger and more mystical case for our Detective and it’s yet another layer the City has to offer. Stunning artwork in this one gives it a much more detailed and slower feel to the story but it’s just as intriguing to read which makes this a great way to close out the book. Sentimental in places but I think that reflect just how special the City can be among the madness we’ve come through in the other stories.
The whole book oozes a dark and sinister vibe but dotted throughout it is the notion that the Detective is clawing his way through from the dark edges of the city to make a difference and achieve some semblence of hope in the grim reality he finds himself in. The whole creative team end up giving us a great central character to rest on the shoulder of as things progress but its Mumbai itself that plays just as much a part in the story as an ever present element of dark & light. The styles of each artist works together well and there’s no jarring differences to disrupt the flow of the four stories and a special mention has to go to Anand Radhakrishnan for that cover……it’s just stunning. A great book that I’m glad to own and I just hope more people outside the Kickstarter get there hands on it.