“Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #4”

(w/a) Brandon Graham
Image Comics, $2.99, 40 pages.

I didn’t know quite what to expect going into issue #4, but subconsciously there was a small spot floating around in my head hoping for resolutions concerning the road-tripping Sexica and Nikoli and the organ mercenary Nura. I can’t help it, it is just conditioning from when one is sucked into a good story and wants to answer the question what happens?. While resolutions did not come, I was surprised at my feeling that I was sadder at the prospect that it will more than likely be a year or so before Graham is able to complete the next chapter. That is a mark of a great story though, isn’t it? The leaving of the reader wanting more and to do it well is a skill that is very difficult to pull off, but with this issue Graham has done just that. Not only has Graham provided that wanting of more with Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity (MWAI) , he has given us something that demands re-reading and viewing, and probably by the time you have soaked in every nuance of both the visual and word puns, complex, detailed geography & character design, and two intriguing, strong willed, capable female lead characters, the time of the next chapter will (hopefully) have arrived.

MWAI is Graham’s version of the road trip story divided into two narratives: the flight of youthful fancy by Sexica and Nikoli and the woman on a mission, Nura. Sexica and Nikoli’s road trip is a representation that sometimes life provides opportunities to get started in a new direction. Having survived their home being destroyed, Sexica gets her and Nikoli out on the road, believing  “My life feels like a snake; leaving its skin behind. I’m an adult now in my new adult skin. It’s exciting. Our future is a blank slate. Anything is possible.” This is false bravado, and Graham lets his young lovers have it until an offer from her former life  surfaces and she cannot refuse. Sexica dealt in the acquisition and selling of organs as part of her former life. In my reading I compare it to a life with the same allure of say a middle man drug dealer, the type one could know like that friend in college or high school that sold this or that “on the side” and lived on the fringes while having more freedoms than a 9 to 5 existencea life that reflects the volatile and unsure nature of being young and unsure about what one wants to do with oneself in life. The crushing aspect is when people box themselves in by coming to the conclusion that one cannot change, and that is what makes Sexica’s speech to herself in issue #3  in accepting a job with some other shadowy figures have resonance and a real sadness. Graham, in-between the puns and the fun, slips in these moments of real problems that gives MWAI another avenue of thought for the reader while also constructing female characters that could possibly be more identifiable than the often ridiculous sex-bomb over saturated monthly market that continues to be promoted as a norm of representation in comics of characterization and stories with female protagonists.

The second narrative, and the only one discussed in issue #4 (which upon finishing it I internally shouted WHAT ABOUT SEXICA AND NICOLI?) centers on the hunter Nura. Nura is a professional dealing with scenarios and obstacles with a calm coolness and a sense of humor. Nura is relentless and seems to belong deep, like a Sergio Leone gunslinger, in the post-nuclear world that is MWAI, a world that suffers from the lingering effects of war, dictatorship, and ecological disaster brought about by radiation. Nura is after a specific head to attain some magic organs. I could explain, at length, the way Graham has constructed the physiology of how magic organs come about, but that would take away the fun of others finding out, and honestly, there are still parts of it I need to go back and read to clarify. This verbal and visual denseness is  part of what I like about Graham’s work in this title and his other ongoing collaborative project for Image comics’ Prophet (you can read the most recent review we posted here)it demands you to pay attention in the initial reading which will undoubtedly cause you to do re-readings. In fact this is a perfect comic for a comic “book club” or even reading circle, because everyone will have a theory about how the world of MWAI functions and, more importantly, where it may be going in the near future.