Phoolan Devi, Rebel Queen

Claire Fauvel, trans. from the French by Montana Kane. NBM, $34.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-68112-251-9
Based on the autobiography of Phoolan Devi (1963-2001), India’s notorious “Queen of the Bandits,” this passionate battle cry of a graphic tribute by Fauvel (Catherine’s War) roots itself in Devi’s early experiences as a member of the oppressed Mallah community of the Shudrah caste, a child bride, and a survivor of repeated sexual violence. Devi is married at 11 and raped by her husband. She’s rescued by her father only to be tormented by men and boys in her village and gang-raped by police. From there, she’s captured by—then joins—a roving gang of bandits, among whom she grows to regional infamy. Throughout, she plots revenge, which she eventually enacts by beating, maiming, and killing men who harmed her or other poor women and girls, and by robbing the wealthy and redistributing funds to impoverished surrounding communities. Her capture, imprisonment, pardon, and subsequent election to Parliament are given shorter coverage in bookending scenes. Fauvel’s loose, scribbly pencil drawings and jewel-toned colors capture both the rare joy and extreme sorrows of Phoolan’s early life, including disturbing, graphic rape scenes. Fauvel portrays Phoolan’s tender expressions of charity, and her love marriage to a fellow bandit, and her most violent acts against the powerful in the same vibrant strokes. This striking biography is as memorable as its vigilante heroine. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 02/12/2020
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Comics
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