DARA

 
Full Name: Rana Bikram Bir Singn
Codename: Dara
Nationality: Indian
Organization: Indian Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Kamini Uppal , Pradeep Sathe
Time Span: 1988 - 1990
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Dara is an agent with the Indian Intelligence Wing.
       Rana Bikram Bir Singh, also known as Raja Saheb, is an ex-prince with an estate in the Himalayas, including a posh resort which provides a good and reliable source of income. He is considered a man of leisure but also with a considerable number of other interests and hobbies which take him away at a moment's notice. Considering his secret line of work, this is a very good thing.
       It is a desire to help the land he loves that Raja Saheb offers his talents to "Intelligence Wing" (no definite article), the lead security organization in India, now run by a mature and experienced spymaster known as Mr. Rao. Rao is one of the few men who know who the dynamic agent known as Dara really is.
       When he is in his Raja Saheb personna at home, he favors slicked back hair, tinted glasses and the clothing now known as Nehru jackets. In the field as Dara, he wears his hair loose, no eyewear, and tee-shirts with a sports jacket giving him a relaxed, debonair appearance. At his villa he is sedate and serene, except behind closed doors where he trains with his man-servant Gudung or with experts brought in to help keep him sharp. On a mission he is most definitely a man of action and not a little daring.
       Dara is a moderately tall, handsome man with a strong jaw and slightly cleft chin. He is highly confident and self-assured, not quite reaching cocky, and his ease of manner and pretense makes him very much attractive to the opposite sex, a feeling he definitely returns.
       Known as health freak, Dara, when not on a mission, spends several hours in heavy exercise each day, eats sparingly, and forgoes heavy spirits in favor of his preference - orange juice.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:8
First Appearance:1988
Last Appearance:1990

       In 1964, the publisher of The Times of India decided to try its hand at comic books. It started with The Phantom by Lee Falk for the first couple years before branching out into other characters also syndicated by King Features, well-known fictional people like Mandrake the Magician, Flash Gordon, Kerry Drake, among others, as well as the secret agent Phil Corrigan.
       Instead of various magazines, Indrajal Comics had one title which really had no title at all except for the name of that issue. And once it opened the floodgates for stories other than about The Phantom, there was no way to know what would be coming next.
       Each issue was numbered so readers could at least know if they had missed one. A total of 803 comics were produced in the 27 years of the comics' existence, though two planned issues never made it to the public due, apparently, to a strike. As a result, the last one released was #805. It was the last of the Dara stories.

       Check out the terrific, and I really mean that, site devoted to the Indrajal Comics, indrajalcomicsblog. The work there is worth a lot of time browsing and it is one source for the Dara comics themselves.

1 The Enemy Agent The Enemy Agent
Published by Indrajal Comics
Contributors: Pradeep Sathe (illustrations), Kamini Uppal (writer)
Copyright: 10/1988

Indrajal Comics #747 - A series of sabotage acts are occurring all over the country and the head of Indian Intelligence calls upon Dara to try his hand at learning who is behind it. He calls upon an old friend with some shady connections to help.

2 The Savage Mercenary The Savage Mercenary
Published by Indrajal Comics
Contributors: Pradeep Sathe (illustrations), Kamini Uppal (writer)
Copyright: 02/1989

Indrajal Comics #763 - A gang leader needs some merchandise smuggled into the country but he knows there are a few people who want it as well. He hires a deadly mercenary to first kill all known threats and then to do the smuggling. Dara is brought in to capture him when the body count gets high.

3 The Hundred Islands The Hundred Islands
Published by Indrajal Comics
Contributors: Kamini Uppal (writer), Pradeep Sathe (illustrations)
Copyright: 04/1989

Indrajal Comics #772 - Dara is visiting a formal party at the home of a neighboring nation's President, a friend, when a major in the army decides it is time to stage a coup, kidnapping a number of the guests.

4 The Drug Barons The Drug Barons
Published by Indrajal Comics
Contributors: Pradeep Sathe (illustrations), Kamini Uppal (writer)
Copyright: 06/1989

Indrajal Comics #782 - An agent for Mr. Rao is found dead, killed while investigating poppy growers in a forested area. Wanting to bring the killers to justice, the spymaster calls upon Dara to take up the challenge but this will pit the agent against a skilled killer named the Tiger.

5 The 'Veiled' Secret The 'Veiled' Secret
Published by Indrajal Comics
Contributors: Kamini Uppal (writer), Pradeep Sathe (illustrations)
Copyright: 09/1989

Indrajal Comics #790 - A notorious smuggler and underworld figure is feeling the heat from his rivals and wants out. He offers to be a states witness in return for protection from his hideout to Delhi. Mr. Rao of the Intelligence Wing asks Dara to be that bodyguard but Dara finds the man is still smuggling - this time a human.

6 The Lurking Conspirator The Lurking Conspirator
Published by Indrajal Comics
Contributors: Kamini Uppal (writer), Pradeep Sathe (illustrations)
Copyright: 12/1989

Indrajal Comics #796 - A woman from India now living in South America is known to be an expert studying ancient civilizations. Behind the scenes, though, she is an arms dealer providing munitions to rebels in several countries. She is visiting India to meet with contacts and to entice someone in the Security field. Mr. Rao wants to know why and asks Dara to get to know her intimately.

7 Sparks of Treason Sparks of Treason
Published by Indrajal Comics
Contributors: Pradeep Sathe (illustrations), Kamini Uppal (writer)
Copyright: 02/1990

Indrajal Comics #800 - A self-promoted 'General' Mustafa is gathering followers on a border of India, working towards taking his terrorism national. Mr. Rao calls upon Dara to find and stop him.

8 The Jaws of Treachery The Jaws of Treachery
Published by Indrajal Comics
Contributors: Pradeep Sathe (illustrations)
Copyright: 04/1990

Indrajal Comics #805 - A Foreign Minister of a friendly nation and his entourage on a guided tour of India are taken hostage by a gang demanding the release of a captured rebel. Dara is asked to find and free them, as well as make the gang members pay.

MY COMMENTS

       I took a fancy for the Dara comics, at least the concept of them. Hearkening back to the days of Secret Agent X or K or whatever where no one knows the real identity of the legendary agent, except for his boss in Dara's case, the operative has a life outside the world of action and enjoys the serenity of that life. He also enjoys the excitement and thrill of putting his life in danger to do good.
       I also liked the idea that India had its own secret agent. It is likely that the huge country had far more fictional agents but this is the first published in the English language that I learned about.
       The stories are standard fare with no special gadgets or gimmicks. Dara is quite appreciative of the female side of the species but remains chaste and aloof nevertheless so action is all we really have.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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