Brandon Graham is something of a hero in the world of comics. He seems to have a magic touch that allows him to create stories with the most loopy plots full of the most absurd puns. Sometimes his art appears to function at the level of the most basic signifier, however, those basic elements have a way of building into glorious heroic structures.
Take in Brandon Graham’s work piece by piece. Let it roll around in your mouth. Savor each morsel.
“Multiple Warheads” has just completed a four-issue run with Image Comics, with a promise of more to come. In this first run, we follow the adventures of Sexica and Nikoli as they make their way to the Impossible City. Threaded throughout this road trip tale is a parallel tale of an organ smuggler in pursuit of the ultimate magical organ. For a comic that has all the signs of being made up as it goes along, this is a nicely balanced layered plot.
This is a good time to look back at Issue Four, the whole shooting match, and consider what it all means. Let’s start with a top ten list, a highlight of some of the beautiful treats found in this last and most recent issue.
1. Mysterious Books. Ah, a portal to something more or is it mostly to use on your bum?
2. Feet. Oh, so much to say about peds, a beautiful subject in its own right.
3. Maps. Maps inside of fruit, no less.
4. Whales. When in doubt, a floating whale.
5. Another arresting isolated image: The bird becomes an instant piece of art.
6. Faced with Faces: One of a variety of possible paths for our hero.
7. Another odd bit of word play that deserves a closer look.
8. More details not to be missed. Would this work as a real game? Sure.
9. Heart dissected for your pleasure.
10. Motorcycle diaries.
And then take that motorcycle sequence and add it to this complexity:
For those new to Graham’s work, or even for those with already some passing interest, the key lies in the details, the parts and the whole, on a page by page basis. Graham’s comics tend to add up more like an experience than just as a work with a driven narrative flow. It brings to mind such dreamy stuff as the films of Terry Gilliam that, for the most part, seem to be best digested as a series of compelling sequences instead of a traditional story. It works in the hands of Gilliam because he’s a master of the visual and the same can be said of Graham. And, with that in mind, there is a story, a big story, to follow in “Multiple Warheads.”
Graham reunites two of his favorite characters, two young lovers by the names of Sexica and Nikoli. The last time we saw these two, Sexica was an organ smuggler. As a last hurrah, Sexica sewed a wolf’s penis on to her boyfriend, Nikoli. It was a birthday present, you understand, and Nikoli was pleased and so was Sexica. Howwever, this fun did not come without complications. Nikoli is now sort of a werewolf. Only sort of, so that’s not too bad. He’s mostly a mechanic and a good guy. There’s also Lenin, Nikoli’s car. And there’s Pumpkin Patch, Sexica former organ smuggling boss. Our story begins shortly after everything has been blown to bits. Nikoli and Sexica must leave their destroyed Red City and head to the Impossible City.
Along the way, Sexica tries to relax on her impromptu vacation but there are lingering regrets over having retired from organ smuggling. To contrast that with what she’s missing, we have this other story going on about another smuggler who has been assigned to find the most magical and powerful organs yet to be smuggled! What is magical and powerful is sort of relative in this world but it’s best to just keep moving toward the next big thing until further notice.
It’s at the first chance to get back into the game that Sexica takes the bait. Some weird little penguin-like creature is in search of a wizard’s larder and that’s good enough for Sexica. She admits that once an organ smuggler, always an organ smuggler: “I’ve always been like this. I need to see what I can get away with to feel like I’ve got freedom.”
That pretty much sums it all up. We all would like to see what we can get away with so we can feel like we have freedom!
Brandon Graham and “Multiple Warheads” will stir up your subversive side and inspire you to pursue your own freedom. Okay, so that takes care of this first batch, “Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity.” The next batch is to be entitled, “Multiple Warheads: Ghost Town.”