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Comic Book / 18 Days

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May a greater wisdom spring from this madness. If not, we should all pay the price for what we have done.

First, there is Brahma, the self-aware immensity, from whose thought-substance are created all known and unknown things. In this vast, infinite expanse of awareness, one single day lasts four billion, three hundred and twenty million years...or one great day, in which the Four Ages of the Earth repeat like the cycle of seasons. In this ebb and flow of cosmic karma lies the web of all existence, echoes of humans, gods, warriors, super science, and sages.

The Mahabharata by way of Jack Kirby, 18 Days is a web series/comic book epic conceived by Grant Morrison that retells the apocalyptic war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas at the end of the Third Age with a Magitek flourish and a number of modern sensibilities to make the greater themes of the work accessible without robbing them of their potency.

  • A Day in the Limelight: Many of the heroes and villains get at least one, but Nakula and Sahadeva arguably get the most prominent one in Chapter 11 where they save the world as children independent from both their more famous brothers and cousins.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Combined with What Measure Is a Mook? One million soldiers (out of the ten-million plus troops who are fighting) alone die on the very first day of the war. Krishna in particular encourages this mindset.
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  • Action Prologue: The series begins when the war begins with the histories of the characters and the events leading up to the actual first day told through a series of flashbacks peppered throughout the run.
  • Always Save the Girl: It's heavily implied that Krishna is manipulating and sabotaging both sides to avenge Draupadi's honor no matter how many people have to die to make that happen.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Besides all the dinosaurs, demons, and zombies he has control over, Duryodhana has taken a cabal of talented misfits under his wing, the low-born and the outright odd whose strengths would have gone unrecognized by anyone else.
  • Birds of a Feather: Ashwathama bonds with Durshasana's bastard son Durma because both of them are deaf and mute.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Abhimanyu gets his bow shot out of his hands with a precision strike from Bheema, who would rather not kill him.
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  • The Chains of Commanding: For a while, Yudish proves himself to be a great king, but the stresses of his position and the incessant demands of his subjects eventually drive him to take up gambling as a means of relaxation.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Ashwathama's final test as an assassin was to defeat the man who trained him. This proved to be an impossibility and Ashwathama only passed because he had his friend and protege Durma wait in the shadows to stab his master in the back.
  • Cool Old Guy: Deconstructed with Bheeshma and Drona whose nobility and battle prowess mask their less admirable close-minded beliefs.
  • Doomed by Canon: Pretty much the entire cast.
  • Energy Bow: Both sides use these for long-range attacks. However, astras are much more physical phantasmal objects that must be loaded separately.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Bharat and its neighboring kingdoms have access to incredible technology that allows them to traverse great distances and live for centuries, but culturally, they adhere to a rather stringent caste system. Duryodhana's sly defiance of it is viewed as one of his better qualities.
  • Fixing the Game: Shakuni uses dice made from the bones of his father to control the outcome of games of chance.
  • Götterdämmerung: Each age ends with one of these although the end of the third that the series focuses on is particularly catastrophic.
  • Handicapped Badass: Ashwathama and Durma, who were born deaf and mute. The duo communicate primarily through sign language and are Duryodhana's top assassins.
  • It Amused Me: Sure, Krishna could opt out of the war and remain in his sanctuary to ponder the mysteries of the universe, but the demigod doesn't "mind a little fun" every now and then.
  • It Only Works Once: Crossing over with Forbidden Dangerous Technique, while one could conceivably master several types of astras, individual astras can only be safely used once. If used twice, they will kill their wielder.
  • Kaiju: Duryodhana has several such beasts at his command, from enormous rakshasa to outright dinosaurs.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Bhima's primary strategy. It only half-works because he's Made of Iron and oftentimes fails because he can be overpowered and outnumbered in spite of that. His son, Gatokacha, while taught Bhima's fighting techniques, engages his enemies much more strategically.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Deconstructed. Several cast members point out how the strict rules of war get in the way of actually winning it thereby ramping up the casualties and stretching out the conflict's duration. Bhima, trapped behind enemy lines, is not only spared from death but offered an escort back to his brothers once the sun sets, much to Duryodhana's outrage.
  • Light Is Not Good: Bheeshma and Drona are dressed completely in white and are very much on Duryodhana's side being responsible for a majority of the casualties of the Pandavan army.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Jaydrath and Ashwathama, the most sinister and ruthless warriors among Duryodhana's troops.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Krishna who imposes his very flowery, high-concept interpretations on the moral quandaries the war presents to goad the Pandavas into winning it. On the eve of the battle, he even offers Karna his aid in assassinating Bheeshma if he agrees to join him. Karna is quick to call him out on his trickery.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Arjuna almost manages to talk Duryodhana into fulfilling his promise to give half the kingdom to the Pandu brothers, appealing to his humanity and reminding him of the deep familial bond the Pandavas and Kauravas once shared before politics pitted them against one another. Then Bheeshma tries to help things along by calling Arjuna a "great warrior" and "the best of men". Duryodhana's nostalgia and goodwill promptly evaporates.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The primary color scheme of the Kauravas.
  • Stealth Insult: Duryodhana subtly criticizes Drona's refusal to teach Durma because of his pedigree by saying, "A child should not be ashamed of his existence. That is the father's fault," which is clearly a potshot at how Drona despises his own son, Ashwathama. The jab goes completely over Drona's head.
  • Those Two Guys: Nakula and Sahudeva who are known for their excellent swordsmanship and how they're easily forgotten by both their brothers and cousins.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Krishna, who is going to help Arjuna win no matter what he might have to do or say. Politely, mind you.
  • Unholy Holy Sword: The Kalbhairava is one of Shiva's swords and while the deity and his nature are not inherently evil, those who use it must be willing to surrender themselves over to the dance of destruction.
  • The Vamp: This version of Draupadi was created by King Drupada to take revenge on the house of Pandu for stealing half his kingdom. She was meant to sow discord among the family once she married into it, but grew to love them instead. However, her rejection of Karna and humiliation during the fateful dice game with the Kauravas help set the stage for the war that will bring ruin to the clan anyway, and she winds up resentful of how she's stuck being a housewife when she's just as powerful a superwarrior as her husbands.
  • War Elephants: Primarily used by the Kauravas.
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • The Third Age is ending as it has many times before and there's no stopping that. It's just that if the Kauravas emerge victorious, the cycle will be brought to a permanent end.
    • Drupadi contemplated to Screw Destiny of being Arjuna's bride by accepting Karna's Engagement Challenge, but didn't. She ends up slightly resentful for being reduced to Pandava's Damsel in Distress as the result.

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