Upon first look of this title, you would expect that certain tropes of the genre may be front and centre; witnessing a vengeful spirit ravaging the lives of the living, as we try to solve their unresolved matters before it is too late and growing stronger from the journey. But whilst this comic is based on these ideas, Aya Begum – Paranormal Investigator doesn’t solely rely on them, making the relationships between the diverse range of characters the focal point, almost overshadowing the whole paranormal aspect, in a positive way of course. This comic presents a unique depiction of eastern culture with its issues of social divide and distribution of wealth with its characters and surroundings, with strong moral narratives that whilst feeling somewhat cliché and predictable at time, are executed beautifully with believable relationships and backstories of relatable pasts they all possess, with more secrets and allegiances boiling to the surface as the tale unfolds.
Aya Begum is a young girl living in poor conditions with her family within a small village, often being labelled a troublemaker by her family and neighbours. A business mogul by the name of Choudhury who she constantly squabbles with, plans to claim the land they call home and leave them all homeless and destitute. But something has quite literally set its sights on the village. An unknown creature stares at the village from the forests, making the residents scared for their homes and Choudhury unsure of his plans as it continuously watches on. All attempts to understand and talk to the creature leaves all those that dare approach it cowering in fear. But you should know, the biggest heroes can come in the smallest of packages. So perhaps Aya can help to figure out the truth behind the creature’s appearance and save all those she cares about. And perhaps, help her to confront some of her own personal demons as well.
Iqbal Ali has constructed a strong, vibrant and believable world that touch upon several themes and convey their messages at a decent pace. As Aya comes to terms with her situation and the past events that shaped her, we see her grow more confident and stronger, putting aside her hatred and anger towards Choudhury, a man who sees money as means of power, control and status over the “lowlifes”. But as this extraordinary event unfolds, his true colours are shown to the village behind the façade he has built. Money doesn’t mean control or respect, or even a backbone.
Now onto the art. Francisco Maldonado (such a great name by the way) has brought this wonderful story to life through his wonderful sketch style designs. The character are easily recognisable and possess unique identifying features that make them stand out from the large group of characters on offer here. Facial expressions are on point and the design for the paranormal events are visually stunning and highly unique. The passion for this piece is clearly on show and each panel is intricate in its design to ensure that its message and ideas are fully utilised.
So in summary, is it clear I enjoyed this comic? Aya Begum – Paranormal Investigator hits strong emotional themes with great conviction and pacing, and the cast of characters each get to experience trials and growth just as much as the titular character. Aya Begum – Paranormal Investigator is a great example of how to build a believable world despite the extraordinary subject matter and deliver an emotional journey without becoming too overbearing. So what further supernatural events are set to befall Aya and the village? Will Choudhury continue to try and claim the land for his own? And what other secrets are waiting to be discovered? Iqbal and Francisco have set their standards high and we know the best is yet to come.
Have you had the chance to read Aya Begum – Paranormal Investigator? You can find out more about the comic from Mild Frenzy Comics. Do you have a paranormal experience you want to share? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!