Vimanarama #2


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Vimanarama #2


  • Words: Grant Morrison
  • Art: Philip Bond
  • Inks: n/a
  • Colors: Brian Miller
  • Story Title: Act Two
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Mar 9, 2005

So my girlfriend came home to find me reading Vimanarama #2 yesterday.

"What’s that you’re reading?" she asked me.

"Vin-a-man-arama-lama-rama…Hold on. Vim-an-a-rama. It’s Grant Morrison’s new book. Kind of like Bend It Like Beckham, but instead of the backdrop being soccer, it’s mystical superhumans from ancient Pakistan that this kid accidentally awakened that are now fighting over London."

A raised eyebrow. "That sounds nothing like Bend It Like Beckham."

"Okay, but you know how Beckham is really a family comedy about growing up in a family that the girl doesn’t totally fit into and there are lots of funny bits about Indian culture and family structures in modern London, but the movie on the outside is sort of a soccer movie? My analogy is sound. I stand by it. Except that the guy is this is Pakistani, not Indian."

"Jesse." Pause. "There are flying saucers on the cover."

"But that’s what makes it so good!"

And it is good.

The very first page of Vimanarama #2 is classic. London is being destroyed by mystical beings. The British army is on the way. And one soldier leans out of his tank to face us and shout "Now look what you’ve done, Ali!" The gag is that Vimanarama’s protagonist, Ali, who seems to be the only capable member of his family, is the one constantly blamed for things despite the fact that he’s the only one who ever seems to fix anything.

Grant Morrison’s humor, a commodity that is sometimes difficult for him to express, is in rare form here. Truly, he’s at his best when writing his own stories about his own characters. This sci-fi-/fantasy/comedy is also slightly more accessible than The Filth, Morrison’s other foray into that same territory. It’s still absurd, but not so absurd that it makes me sit up at nights trying to contemplate it.

But I digress. This second issue, now that the mystical beings have been awakened, veers more into the fantasy territory than the comedic. There is a lot of fighting and plot and not as much time spent with Ali’s family, which is tragic because they’re so darn funny. Vimanarama #2 also largely ignores Ali, which feels like a mistake. The focus of the issue is on the bad guys, the Black Vimanas, and the Ultrahadeen, the ancient Pakistani superheroes. And while there are some amusing bits with Prince Ben Rama, the scope of the narrative dramatically increases in this second issue with only one more issue left to wrap up the story.

A book like this needs to assume a certain amount of genre literacy on the part of its readers. Yes, we’re familiar with this kind of bad guy and their general remake-the-world-in-our-image routine. We also know they’re gonna wreck London and stuff. This happens all the time in comic books. Precious pages do not need to be devoted to the details of this when the hook of the story is this kid and his adolescent crisis while he tries to deal with his totally absurd family and compete with an eight-foot demigod for the affections of the girl of his dreams. It would be like if Bend It Like Beckham was mostly devoted to showing soccer games instead of family comedy.

Philip Bond’s artwork is a perfect fit for the story. He has a lovely blocky style and some really sharp character designs that perfectly capture the comedy of the situation while remaining ostensibly fantastic. This issue also shows some really fantastic color work from Brian Miller, making it evident that both Miller and Bond did their homework when creating their Hindu-influenced designs and color schemes. This gives the book a really solid feel to it, and one that frankly makes me interested in whiling a way a few hours on the internet to see how much of this Pakistani superhero stuff they made up and how much of it has its roots in something real.

This is another great three-issue miniseries from Grant Morrison, and another tale from Vertigo that keeps this industry about more than tights and capes. Both are good reasons to check this baby out.

-Jesse Vigil

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