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Bangaloreans by day. Superheroes by night.

A peek into the minds of Abhishek Anand, Solomon Sunil and Ragini Nag Rao. Bangaloreans by day. Superheroes by night. 

Like Bob Parr from 'The Incredibles' once said, "Every Super has a secret identity; I don't know a single one who doesn't. I mean, who wants the pressure of being super all the time." Which got me thinking, are there Bangaloreans among us, who aren't like you and me, you know, secret superheroes?

Take my colleague Varun, for instance. By day, he seems like an able tech manager, pulling off multiple tasks at the speed of light. Without Varun, you could say, there would be no IT in ExplocITty. Towering over me at a little over six foot, with always a smile or two every time he’s called to deal with this malfunction and that bzzzzt, bang, boom, it’s difficult for me to reconcile with his true calling. He’s a zombie.

Complete with talcum and lipstick, just a dash of tomato ketchup (no prizes for guessing why) he is unrecognizable. But when I encountered him at the graveyard, post witching hour at the graveyard (why was I there, you ask?), he was rummaging for brains. Could explain why he didn’t come my way.

My close encounter with Zombie Varun led me to conclude that there are superhero Bangaloreans amongst us, only they keep it quiet. Do I have lunch with them everyday? Is my best friend one? These questions had me scouring the streets of Bangalore at midnight; I just had to know. Who. What. When. And how. A story if there ever was one.

And while I’m still on the look out for the ever-elusive Batman, here are few characters from comic strips that come alive, some by day, most by night.

Abhishek Anand 

Abhishek is a technology analyst working with Infosys. He’s 32. He loves anime, comics, video games, movies, music and new technology. There are very few comic titles that he hasn't read or heard about.

If you could be one comic character, which would it be?

Ichigo from ‘Bleach’.

Why?

Because he’s Japanese, has awesome powers, has a sword and orange hair.

How did you end up becoming a Soul Reaper? Describe a typical day in your life as a stand-in Soul Reaper?

As all good intriguing stories go, I became a soul reaper by accident. A typical day? Beat up rogue souls till they go back to Soul Society, make a bigger Bankai, hang with Inoue and the rest of the gang. (If you don’t understand what any of this means, it’s OK. There’s an explanation on the side.)

If you’re Ichigo, who is Rukia?

Rukia started all this. Me coming to be a soul reaper. She is loud and stubborn. Girls!

Do you ever wish you could return your Death God powers?

What? And lose my awesome sword ‘zangetsu’ and stop having fights with all the big shots in Soul Society?

Do you wish you could have been given a different hair colour?

No way! Orange hair equals great power. (Eg: Naruto)

What is it like to be a forever-15 anime/Manga character? Some days, don’t you wish you could just be a 15-year old?

I may be forever 15 on screen, but my powers have grown so much that I can beat up anyone I meet. And nah, if I was a normal 15 year old, I’d be in some other anime with some girly love story.

It seems like you’ve had an eerie childhood... what is it like to see ghosts and spirits? Any interesting conversation with one you can recount?

Yeah… at first it was confusing, then frightening, then exciting, later boring. Like all things go. When I was little, I once met this Shinigami / God of Death, who said he had a book to give me and what not. I told him to get lost (I was on Playstation then). I hear later that he caused a lot of ruckus with that book. ‘Death Note,’ I think it was called. Meah.

And finally, which do you like better, being a film series anime character or a video game character?

Anime characters rule. I don’t like playing myself in video games; it’s uncomfortable watching myself die.

Who is Ichigo Kurosaki? 

Ichigo Kurosaki is a 15-year old fictional orange-haired character in the anime and Manga franchise, Bleach. Ichigo receives Soul Reaper (one who governs the flow of souls from the human world to Soul Society) powers from a run in with Death God Rukia Kuchiki, the Soul Reaper assigned to patrol his city, Karakura Town. These powers are acquired at the cost of Rukia’s own, because of which Ichigo works as Rukia’s stand-in, and fights to protect people from evil spirits called Hollows, and sends good spirits to Soul Society.

Solomon Sunil 

Sunil is a Business Development and Marketing Consultant for a number of IT Services and Digital Media companies. He is 32. He prefers ‘darker’ and ‘grittier’ comics.

If you could be one comic character, which would it be?

Bane

Why?

We both have the same personality… physically, that is. And well, Bane was the only person who broke the “bat!”

How did you become Bane? Were you also in prison?

I never did completely become Bane (my alter ego, you could say). Once in a while he shows up, that is all. Was never in a prison; and in a way, Bane is imprisoned in me.

Were you Bane-the class bully when you were younger?

It was more like Bane, the devil-may-care guy.

Ever wish your mask could have been different?

Not at all. “No one cared who I was until I put on the mask.”

Bane knows six active languages and two additional arcane/dead ones? How many do you know actually?

Four. English, Hindi, Telugu and Kannada

If you’re Bane, then who is your Batman?

For Bane, society is always ‘The Batman.’ Stubborn and silly.

If you could have one of Batman’s many gadgets, what would it be?

Easy. The Batmobile.

If you could end ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ differently, how would you do so?

Batman wouldn’t have retired, neither would have Bane.

 Who is Bane ?

Bane is a super villain who first appeared in ‘Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1’ in January 1992. He has been one of Batman’s more physically and intellectually powerful foes, and is often credited for being the only villain to have “broken the bat.” Bane spent a good chunk of his childhood and adult life living out his father’s life sentence in prison, and it was here, in this penitentiary environment that Bane developed his natural abilities and developed extraordinary skills.

Ragini Nag Rao 

 

Ragini is a fashion blogger, comics guzzler, a plus-size model, writer and traveller. She keeps shuttling between Calcutta, Delhi, Bangalore and the UK.

If you could be any one comic character, which one would you be?

Death from The Sandman

Why?

Well, I have been a Gaiman fan for as long as I can remember. And Death grew to be one of my favourite characters from The Sandman. Through history Death has been considered to be grim, cruel and scary. But with the Endless, she is a beautiful young woman who is compassionate. She understands human emotions, yet she is strong enough to act whenever she has to, without sparing a second thought. When you read ‘Death: The High Cost of Living,’ you get to know her even better. And to know her is to love her.

Also, this was the easiest costume I could think of for Comic Con.

 You’ve often been described as “She who trumps and defines all existence.” Agree? Would you like to add to that?

Well, I do control life in so many ways. So I guess this one thing that people say about me has to be true. I hate sounding this immodest and smug.

Death is usually depicted in a very Grim Reaper-ish fashion. You, on the other hand, are an attractive pale young Goth woman. And you’re quite popular too. Do you think this works to your advantage in your role as Death?

Of course it does! Who wouldn’t want to embrace such a pretty face? Makes my job infinitely easier. Have you ever seen how people run from the scarier portrayals of me? Frankly, that chase is quite exhausting for both parties involved. I’d much rather ease my ‘victims’ into the other world.

What do you think of your siblings? Who’s close to you? Who can’t you stand?

Well, according to everyone who has observed the Endless, I am closest to Dream. But I have a pretty soft spot for Delirium as well. (If not Death, I would want to be Delirium) And how can I dislike any of my other siblings. Yes, we have disagreements and we disappear for centuries and swear not to see each other’s faces, but what’s life without a few squabbles?

If you could swap powers with one of the Endless, who would it be and why?

It has to be my brother Morpheus, popularly known as Dream. Well, that man is the king of dreams. Wouldn’t anyone want a taste of his power as well?

Why not give life a second chance?

And then people would want a third chance and a fourth one, and the next thing you know, I am being forced to retire and that would not be a nice thing. The streets would be full of hundreds, no, thousands of people suffering, in agony, waiting, hoping and begging for death. Can you even imagine a world like that?

Ever wish you could shake off all the rules and customs that apply to you? Like falling in love with a mortal for instance?

Yes, I do. But I do realise how futile and heartbreaking it would be.

Now, tell us the truth, have you ever been in love with a mortal?

If I told you, I’d have to embrace you.

 Who is Death? 

Death figures is part of The Endless – Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Despair, Desire and Delirium – a team that embodies powerful forces or aspects of the universe in the comic book series, The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman. In the stories, Death meets with the recently deceased, and guides them to their new existence. She also visits people as they are born. In The Sandman, Death appears an attractive pale young Goth woman, dressed in a black top and jeans. She is pleasant, down-to-earth, and perky – the irony of the description making her one of the popular characters in the series.

Maheshwara Reddy

When 27 year-old Maheshwara is not busy working for Samsung, he devours comics to help pass the time.

If you could be any one comic character, which one would you be?

The Phantom

And why?

He’s real.

What’s it like when you see other heroes around with superpowers and/or fancy gadgets, and then find yourself having to reconcile with a gun and a horse?

Well, I am called the “ghost who walks” aren’t I? I grit my teeth and bad guys swear off crime. Who needs to fly?

You were the first superhero to wear the skin-tight costume that’s become a trademark feature of most comic superheroes today. Do you think the comic book superheroes who came after you love you or resent you for that?

The costume gives flexibility and ease of movement to evade knives and bullets. But it can be quite a problem on hot days. Most superheroes will thank me when their lives are saved, but hate me when they feel itchy and sweaty

Do you think you carry off purple spandex?

It’s not about the spandex. It’s about the attitude.

You have a trained wolf and a horse. Why not just get a dog?

Dogs have to be fed, pet, fed etc. Devil (my pet wolf) finds his own meals and gets quite embarrassed when Diana (my wife) pets him or rubs his belly. There’s enough grass in the jungle for Hero (my horse).

Ever get the feeling that Batman ripped off the idea for his Bat Cave from your Skull Cave?

I think due credit has been given by his creators. Batman is all right. He’s real like me. Doesn’t have special powers and stuff, but fights crime. By the way, I am richer.

You turned 77 this year. How do you keep so fit?

The truth is that we pass on the legacy from father to son.

You’re a legacy hero? Will your son be following in your footsteps?

Sure. Why only my son? If my daughter wishes to become a female Phantom, I’ll be her trainer.

Who is Phantom? 

The Phantom is the 21st in a line of crime fighters that originated in 1536, when the father of British sailor Christopher Walker died in a pirate attack. Christopher swore to avenge his father’s death on the skull of his father’s murderer, and thus began the legacy of Phantom – one that passed on from father to son. The Phantom has no supernatural powers, and relies solely on strength, intelligence, and reputation of being immortal, what with nicknames such as “the ghost who walks,” “the man who cannot die,” and “ guardian of the Eastern dark.”

Manojna Yeluri

Bangalore-based lawyer who works on artists’ rights and specialises in family law, particularly in the after life.

If you could be any one comic character, which one would you be?

Emily, from Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

Why?

Because I’m a hopeless romantic.

How do you do your makeup every morning?

I don’t bother much with makeup because I’m dead.

Where did you get your wedding dress?

Limited Edition, Havisham Dresses

Perhaps a more pertinent question: where did you find your guy?

On www.graveyardromances.com

Your thoughts on unrequited love and heartbreak?

It haunts me for eternity.

And marriage?

Get a good divorce lawyer who specialises in the dead. Note to all zombie brides: make sure you have an alimony clause that applies in your afterlife.

Who is Emily? 

Emily from Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is a beautiful, charismatic young woman with a passion for music and dance. She is the undead, self-proclaimed bride of the young Victor Van Dort, and ex-bride of Barkis Bittern.She has blue skin, and tangled blue hair. And is often seen wearing a torn and tattered wedding dress used to belong to her mother, with a matching veil. She is introduced into the story when Victor enters the woods after a failed wedding rehearsal to practice his wedding vows. When he places the ring on one of Emily’s skeletal fingers, thinking it to be a branch sticking out of the ground, Emily rises from the ground and takes Victor to the Land of the Dead. As the story progresses, it is revealed that in her past life, Emily had fallen in love with a man but was murdered during her elopement for her money.

What’s Comic Con?

A convention for comicaholics, Comic Con is a two-day event to promote the child in you. Not only comic books but also gaming, movies, television, merchandise, toys, food and more. Through competitions such as Cosplay, where comic enthusiasts come dressed as their favourite comic characters and the best costume wins a prize, Comic Con gives fans, exhibitors and partners a platform to celebrate their undying love and passion for the animated world and pop culture.

The Bangalore Comic Con is scheduled for June 1 & 2 at the Koramangala Stadium. Artists and writers will also showcase some of their works and engage in panel discussions. Cool merch will mos def be on sale at the event.