*Trigger Warning: This content contains subject matter that is sensitive, and may elicit a reaction from the reader. Article contains references to sexual assault.*
After being assaulted, Priya goes home and is cast out because of what had been done to her. In an attempt to seek justice, Parvati (through Priya) seeks out aid from a council who only furthers the pain and suffering by blaming Priya for the assault. With no resolution, Parvati goes on to seek out the assailant- who Priya has known since she was a child.
Again, Parvati is faced with excuses and blame being placed on the victim.
In the midst of confronting Priya’s rapist, he tries once more to force her and Parvati reveals herself.
Lord Shiva feels Parvati’s anger at the injustice and curses all of mankind for their wicked ways. The punishment being that no children were to be born. This leads to chaos among the mortals and a war among the gods, who were torn on the matter. Was it right to punish all for the deeds of a few? Weren’t women being punished for a crime committed against them?
Through a series of events, Priya is selected by the Goddess Parvati to be the one to enact change and restore Lord Shiva’s faith in humanity as a provision for lifting the curse.
So through villages Priya rides upon a tiger (her Shakti) and chants the mantra:
Speak without shame, and stand with me… and be the change you wish to see!
The use of Blippar, a free app, turns this comic download into what the creator’s are coining an “augmented reality (AR) comic/exhibition”. Illustrations become tappable and turn into animation. Particular panels, meant as mini documentaries, are narrated and feature true stories of sexual assault survivors. In these panels animations are used to protect the identities of the women who came forward. Over all, these little details made for an authentic and powerful experience that is unlike anything a typical comic could portray.
I felt emotionally invested in the characters, and when I was on the last page I was hoping there was more.
Can anyone enjoy this story?
I firmly believe that there are many things about this comic to enjoy, whether you are an advocate of gender equality/women’s rights or not. The introduction of a few characters gives variety, and although it is Priya’s story the reader is given a chance to connect with the secondary characters like Lord Shiva. As the story progresses into more chapters/issues we will likely meet even more characters to relate to and enjoy.
The fact that there is a message, and the comic could succeed as a standalone (is notable on the basis of plot, characters, illustration, etc) makes it a double whammy.
Any potential negatives that can be said for “Priya’s Shakti” would have to be that we didn’t get as much of a feel for Priya as I think we should have, as the greater part of the book she is inhabited by the Goddess Parvati. While we do see her past experiences and know that she is a good hearted person, as well as a survivor, we don’t get to hear much of her voice until the end. Again, this will most likely be a non-issue in the following works.
There are so many layers to this project, that I can not possibly delve into them all in one article. This review is meant to be a brief overview, and to hopefully encourage you as a reader to go pick up a copy for yourself. That being said, there will be a second article coming with us taking a closer look at Priya as a character, where the next chapter of the story may take us, the social impact this project has had, and much more.