Series Name- Agori (Arc-I)
Number of Books in Arc-I :- 4
Creative House of Publication- Holy Cow Entertainment
Writer- Ram V
Artists- Vivek Goel, Gaurav Shrivastav, Yogeh Pugaonkar.
Aghori Book - I
The book one opens in the year 1999 where we find a tall, brown, man of thirty, Vikram Roy celebrating his promotion to the position of Vice-president. The story follows first person narrative where Roy is a bit critical of the smiles surrounding him. Soon he enters the washroom where his life is going to change for the worse. He meets the temptation never to fall for; he receives a kiss, worse than, kiss of death from a mysterious aphrodisiacal woman in black. When he is dropped home to a pregnant wife he is unconscious of his. In his sleep he revisits the kiss, but this time the face of the woman is of a demon. The artwork of this particular demonic kiss might not seem very new to advent comic readers as it is frequented in The Sandman and few others. In next few pages we find him butcher his father and mother-in-law and hang them upside down. Singing lullaby and marks the unborn, with the iconic “I” of the title Aghori. This particular page of upside down bodies is worth all the praise. After the massacre our corporate giant sets on the path of finding answers to the questions he doesn’t understand, while his son is born with the mark.
The story shifts to post twelve years Mumbai after the birth of the boy with the mark, our Vikram Roy looks human form of Lord Shiva. Like any Aghori he is covered in beard, long hair, face paint, tiger skin (general view and trend) and carrying the Damru. We find our sidekick, if we can call him that at first look, our reporter Ashwin Chari, he often reminds of the lost youth in search of adventure. Next few pages are where Aghori series chalks out its difference from others. The artwork like Billy Tan has said- Nice marriage of Indian theme with western art style. The themes are not just good vs evil or path of being correct. The first story has a theme which is totally apt to our contemporary Indian Scenario. It deals with the evil of Honor Killing; such a striking topic has been handled beautifully. The second story deals with the human greed which even dares to prostitute a Goddess. Though Goddess Maya here might make us compare her to Tara from Shekar Kapur’s series Devi. It’s not similar except for the part of both being part of lust business .
Book 1 lays a strong foundation for both character and theme of story; we have a forty two year old man in search of his son who is on path of damnation. There are various clues which say we know where our story might be heading. It surly tells us where it is not going- Destroy the evil for only humanity. Here Vira aka Vikram Roy is a man fighting both social evils existing in mind, society and demons of hell. He is fighting firstly for his sin; secondly the pain caused to his son and thirdly an unknown enemy he has yet to meet.
Book -1 gets: - 4 out of 5
Aghori Book - II
Book- 2 picks the story from the clues given in book-1. Vira with his sidekick Ashwin, go to the land where Dead No Longer sleep. They venture into the heart of Thar Desert in Longewala Outpost. In Thar we meet Major Udaysing Rathore, who tells us the story of how they being only 170 fought against army of 2000. The zombie like dead soldiers are beautifully drawn especially how they come out of sand. The touch of Murphy Transistor (colloquial for old radio and type recorder) gives the touch that Major actually belongs from the 70’s. The Shvaan, the doglike animal which ferry the dead gives a feel of mutant dogs from Hunger Games, but they are more smart and understanding here. At the end of this story we finally get the glimpse of Vira’s son, the boy with the mark. The artwork of the boy is not so happening, his first glance is not charming or impactful.
The second story continues from where it left, an injured Vira is desperately saved being by Ashwin. Ashwin shows the signs of friendship as we see the cunning boy shed tears. In a half dream and half dead like situation, Vira meets her- his wife Nikita and his old self. Nikita asks him to join her and leave everything behind; she crumbles away which finally tells us that she is dead. The mistake we found in the artwork was a dead Nikita still wearing the yellow night dress from Book- 1. We assume hospitals do change the clothes and it’s a bit strange to keep a person in same clothes for twelve years. The essential question is asked what is Vira delving into. The best part is when you find Vira the Aghori actually tells “Fuck You” to his own self- the burden of his past, fear and guilt. Vira is rescued in the end form Thar, when Ashwin calls Inspector Khare. In Vira’s dream he meets his son, he is again asked a question can he forgive himself for his deeds. Even his dreams are not safe; his son is abducted from his dream. The artwork and sketch of the son is not very impressing. Since he has done so many dreadful works, we can’t expect any innocence in the face, yet the boy fails to appeal as a “boy” of twelve. In future work we hope to find his boyish appeal back.
Book -2 has good artwork and a decent storyline, but it does not rise above the standards of Book-1. Our 42 year old anti-hero is well crafted in both art and words. The interludes of how he became Vira is beautifully done, the Shamshan look and desperation of food and finally eating Human Flesh gives the story the real feel of an Aghori. Ashwin is growing as a character into a human with eyes in both worlds. The Shvaan’s are something we look forward to read more in future.
Book-2 gets: - 3 out of 5
The epilogue shows the journey of his becoming Vikram becoming the Aghori, he gives a striking face of hunger, desperation, fear and finally loneliness. The first chapter shows an middle aged man being haunted by a little girl like any other Thai or Korean horror movie, the colour play of white with scary scene is a bit common. We meet Inspactor Khare, who had a cameo in Book-1. He has not changed a bit in twelve years, he is old potbellied who has been chasing after Vikram Roy for twelve years. Khare strikes a deal to let Vira go only when a mysterious case is solved by him when Ashwin tries to save Vira. Our ponytail Vira is back in his attire of Aghori- any guy at his 40’s would kill themselves to have a body like Vira. We meet Kaag-the crow, who reminds of Mathew from The Sandman, yet they serve different purpose, our Kaag is shy and not a subordinate but a friend. The story moves to another little girl in white planning to kill. Here the story keeps its honor of picking up another contemporary social evil. The cause of Female Infanticide has never been served so horrifically. Our little girl in white is a victim who has grown up besides her twin brother and is manipulated to take revenge. On other side Khare and Ashwin find the warehouse where the fetus had been accumulated. The artwork in these pages is terrific and gruesome. Khare and Ashwin, burn down the house and the body of collected skull. With burning of the dead, the soul of little girl is freed. She gifts Vira the most precious and innate nature of a child-Innocence.
The next epilogue finally reveals the secret behind the name Vira, his name is given by the Snake boy, from the weapon Virabhadra. Vira receives a golden snake in his left hand, which reminds of the introduction about the Left Hand of God in book-1. As per the deal Khare lets off Vira and gives him the name and number of another soon to be launched character Solomon. In the chawl of Mumbai we find an old Solomon sitting on his chair and giving Vira his most prized possession his bullet. Vira is let towards the door of hell, which is under the watch of Solomon. It’s a mystery to how Solomon had hold of the door. The first frontal view of hell is divine from artist’s view. Closer look shows minute details of hell, the path created out of twisted, molded, disfigured human souls. There is fire, there is blood red, and there is suffering. The great worm which feeds on the sinners reminds of the Kushanāda from Bleach. Vivek Goel promised Agohri was going to be India’s answer to the epic of Comics The Sandman, well they have done their best to surpass the hell of Neil Gaiman. We have a gang war breaking off with Solomon’s gang and Ashwin trying to protect Kaag. Vira again meets the mysterious woman in black from book-1, now she is half snake. Her debt is paid with interest as she gets devoured by Vira’s king cobra. We get to meet the lieutenants- the Twins : Koka and Vikoka. They show Vira, how his boy was shown the path of evil. Vira is shown how every evil Vira has tackled was part of the plan by their unnamed Master. Vira is attacked by the demons, who try to devour his soul, but he is saved by Ashwin and the lucky bullet of Solomon saved him.
Book-3 has a special feature story which launches the major and future character of HCE universe- That Man Solomon. Well if we like crime, if we have fascination for antagonist and all the anti-social thoughts, Solomon seems to be our man. He with his thinning hair and overgrown belly and horrific and cruel smile looks promising.
The art work of Book-3 is splendid, the paper quality really matters in art hence both worked beautifully but the binding issues prevail. We still have complains about the young boy and his face, he is yet to leave any feelings in us. Even in his childhood crimes he fails to evoke any fear or sympathy. His father is the protagonist so he needs to work harder or he will be overshadowed. The Twins were created nicely and they really give a westernized feel to whole comics, it’s no longer demons and asuras from hell with long beard or overgrown bodies , we have suited demons. Yes the themes have been better; being feminist we recommend reading it time and again.
Book-3 gets: - 4 out of 5
P.S- Now we are waiting for the final Book-4 of first Arc