Ms Shabash takes on harassment
The past decade or so has been a good one for the pop art scene in Bangladesh. The continued popularity of events like Dhaka Comicon, and the rise and rise of platforms like Cartoon People have done wonders for the field. When it comes to homegrown comics in English, the first name that comes to mind is Mighty Punch Studios.
With Shabash, Lathial, Captain Kathal and the Legends of Zooey, the MPU, if you will, encapsulates a quirky, darkly comic version of Dhaka. The creators use humour and pop culture references to address social issues of varying levels of gravity. Arguably their most important work has been showcased through Ms Shabash.
In her debut issue, the crime-fighting superhero took on the fairness industry and attacked the cultural phenomenon of shadeism. In Ms Shabash Issue#2 she deals with sexual harassment. The storyline is a tale as old as time – guy sees girl, guy wants girl, girl rebuffs him, guy can’t stand the rejection, and things turn ugly.
The comic Khan introduces Mojo Khan, celebrity heartthrob with a giant fan following and an even bigger ego. He decides that the only woman suitable for someone of his status is the much-lauded Ms Shabash. Neither Ms Shabash, nor her alter-ego Shabnam are even remotely interested in him, having ignored the repeated friend requests and invites. In true Bollywood style, Mojo Khan is convinced that persistence will eventually get him the girl. We’ll let you read the issue and discover how it goes down.
Tonally, this is probably the darkest Mighty Punch has gotten. There are subtle references to cyber-stalking, gaslighting, the #MeToo movement, and even acid violence. Writer Samir Asran Rahman had his work cut out for him in delivering this sobering message in a way that isn’t too heavy-handed, and in this reviewer’s humble opinion, he delivers with aplomb. Nonetheless, the climax and denouement will definitely polarize readers. But whether you agree with the ending or not, this is definitely an issue not to be missed. As always, the art team (Asifur Rahman, Mosharraf Hussain Nipu and Wahid Xaman) have created a richly detailed canvas.
Ms Shabash #2 is now available at all brances of the South Korean bbq restaurant chain, Meena Bazar outlets and PBS bookstore. It was sponsored by bbq, Country Natural and Eon Foods. Grab your copy today!