Multiple Warheads #1
Oni Press, July 2007
Brandon Graham, writer/artist
(I hope you’ll pardon me for getting meta for a moment. Normally I think talking about trends when discussing a comic like this is just a substitute for actually discussing the comic, but in this case the meta takes us in a direction my mind’s been wandering in a lot lately anyway.)
I don’t know if it’s fair to credit Scott Pilgrim as throwing wide the doors for projects like these, or if it’s simply the highest-profile such project to pass through said doors regardless of who might have opened them. But at any rate, Multiple Warheads is one of those books like SP that makes you say “hey, this is an exciting time to read comics.” Like a growing number of projects–many from Oni–it’s the product of a North American artist who’s interested in action-based genre storytelling yet has no particular debt to superhero comics, a creature that until recently didn’t exist. In this case the artist is Brandon Graham, and he’s bringing to bear obvious interests in manga, European sci-fi comics, barbarian stories, and porn to create a fast, loose story of a waaaaay post-apocalyptic future where a va-va-voom young lady named Sexica smuggles super-powered organs around a walled-off city inhabited by aliens and werewolves and normal people too. It’s a pretty slight thing. Maybe that’s because the most obvious points of comparison–Scott Pilgrim, East Coast Rising, The Pirates of Coney Island–are all telling book-length stories while Graham’s going done-in-one (and at kind of a hefty price point). Or maybe it’s because the thin line, skewed proportions (everything seems both a bit narrow and a bit bowed), and acres of blank space in the word balloons give the art a tossed-off barely-there feel. Or maybe it’s because the story isn’t really a story per se, it’s more of a “day in the life” kind of thing that simply begins when it begins and ends where it ends, arc schmarc. But the end result of all that slightness is not unpleasant in the, well, slightest. It’s a breezy vibe for a breezy character. Indeed, breeziness is very serious for Sexica, almost a raison d’etre. She wants to go someplace nice, untouched by war, and she’s tried to get there, it seems, through means both intimate (sewing a smuggled wolf dick onto her boyfriend for some extra spark in the sack) and direct (taking advantage of a spaceship crash to get the hell out of Dodge). It’s a laid-back book, almost a stoned book, which makes sense given that Vaughn Bode is evident in Sexica’s every lovingly delineated curve. I enjoyed it, and I’m hoping that future issues will provide some muscular mind-expansion–something along the lines of the beautiful panel that communicates Sexica’s post-coital bliss at being surrounded by the comforts of home with a bed’s-eye-view of the bulbous light fixture on the ceiling above her–to deepen and enrich the pleasures of this installment’s lovely but fleeting buzz.