Writer: Ram V
Artist & Colorist: Filipe Andrade
Letterer: Andworld Design
Cover Artists: Filipe Andrade; Fábio Moon; Anand R.K.; & David Mack
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Release Date: September 20, 2023
An enormous man wearing a white suit visits an art gallery in Bandra, Mumbai. Yet the painting he gazed upon dwarfs him. Standing before the immense canvas on the waxed tile floor, he composes a letter in his head to his friend Mansi. Who is this well-dressed man, and why did he abandon his café in Somarah without telling his friend goodbye? Let’s dive into Rare Flavours #1 and find out!
The painting shows the legendary Hindu hero Bheema attacking the rakshasa Bakasura. Determined that the rakshasa should eat no more villagers, Bheema clubs Bakasura to death. The enormous man is sad that people today remember him as an uncouth barbarian. Yet he smiles, revealing the fangs shown in the historic painting.
As Bakasura leaves the gallery, two men are on his trail. Dilshan kneels in an alley, sniffing the rakshasa’s scent. His partner Dilkush stands behind him, his feline friend Manimeow resting on his shoulders. Both men—and perhaps also the cat—are determined to find Bakasura before he kills and devours another victim.
Without background knowledge of India or the Hindu epic of Bheema and Bakasura, Rare Flavours #1 is a lot to take in. Yet it’s easy to understand how Bakasura could hunger for what he once agreed to give up. Watching the centuries pass, he found comfort in TV shows celebrating food. Anthony Bourdain’s death compelled him to return to the world he left behind. Yet, surrounded by temptation, his old hunger returns. It is a monstrous, overwhelming hunger: one he cannot refuse.
The rakshasa meets with a young filmmaker named Mohan in one of Bandra’s beautiful cafés. He introduces himself as Rubin Baksh and asks Mohan to take a journey with him. They could make a powerful documentary about Indian cuisine and those who weave such savory magic. That is if Mohan—who goes by Mo–agrees.
Filipe Andrade brews Ram V’s rich story with magic all his own. His loose, flowing art evokes children’s book illustrations in Rare Flavours #1. He sketches buildings and crowds while rendering Mo, Bakasura, and the hunters with compelling detail. Despite his youth, the filmmaker is already tired of life. By contrast, charming, sophisticated Bakasura—or Rubin, as he now calls himself—charms with elegant attire and impeccable manners. His hunters—hardened killers–wear frowns as they weave through the bustling city. Beware the long, sharp knives they wield!
Filipe Andrade loads his palette with soft colors. The eye-pleasing pastels convey India’s vibrant diversity. He shades without relying on gray and scatters colorful reflections on polished surfaces such as tables and floors. Dilkush and Dilshan, cast in purple and mauve, sweep like shadows through the vibrant seaside city. Yet the crowning glory of Rare Flavours #1 is the mural in the opening scene. Brushstrokes flow across Bakasura as Bheema attacks the people-eater beneath a purple, orange, yellow, and turquoise sky.
Andworld Design writes Bakasura’s mental note to Mansi with black, italicized uppercase letters on scraps of light-beige parchment. This attractive font graces white dialogue balloons and mauve narrative boxes that show Dilkush’s conversation. Lowercase italics convey offscreen commentary from Bakasura–or Rubin–suffused with eloquence and reverence for how food and spices can wield magic upon the tongue.
Taking inspiration from a Hindu legend—and the longest epic poem ever written—Rare Flavours #1 tantalizes with its reverence for artistry as it tackles addiction and the allure of forbidden fruit.