Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Drawn with fire because paper burns."
Design heaven and pun-haters' hell, I've rarely read a comic in which its creator is having so much unapologetic, delirious, rip-roaring fun. Like Evan Dorkin, Brandon dashes off more ideas per page than most can muster in an entire mini-series. And, look, here is an entire mini-series!
From the creator of KING CITY, WALRUS and the writer of PROPHET, this a clean-lined, brightly coloured beauty which bleeds right to the ends of each page before crashing through your window and skewering your eye with its sword.
"I love the taste of drama."
It's lo-fi sci-fi with sweeping landscapes, toppled statues, call-a-flower seeds (whistle and they grow), mini-marts infested with strange little critters scampering 'cross aisles, self-heating root vegetables like Turnip The Heat, a palace born on the back of a six-legged 'saurus (its face a feudal façade) and, waiting within, a dandy of a duke who's decadent, dotty and divine!
"Is this going to be a ransom sort of a thing, then?"
"I'm going to sell your body."
It's all so very sexy - and I do mean sexy, for the original black-and-white one-shot has been inserted and it's not the only thing! Adults only, please.
It has two main strands: a blue-haired bounty hunter called Nura out on the frozen plains, lobbing off heads whenever something sticks its neck out; and - negotiating the Northlandz, Southlands and Neither Landz in between - ex-organ smuggler Sexica and her wolf-tailed boyfriend / mechanic called Nikoli. By "tail", I mean, you know
Yes, he has two, but we'll get that. He also has very strange dreams.
At the centre of all this lies the Red or Dead City whose propaganda is direct and to the point:
"We are right!! You are wrong!! (and fat)"
"Also, don't be too smart - Nobody likes that!!"
It is here that Nura brings her dragon's head to trader Pumpkin Patch in the liver pool. She split opened a god-possessed Shov Puppet to harvest its lucrative organs, but a dragon gobbled them up so she cut off its head before it could swallow them. She's been carrying it around ever since. Now she forces it to regurgitate the Shov Puppet's organs and, boy, there are loads!
"The kid had a lot of heart. heh."
Sexica and Nikoli, meanwhile, wend their way towards the Whaling Wall in their Mini-like Lenin powered by its Royal Boiler. Along a steep mountain pass they encounter a toll. I'll spare you the pun about the So Be It Union.
"30 chips for just passing through. Mostly that's the tacks tax. If no one pays us then we cover the road in tacks."
"These mountain monks each pay 30 just to die?"
"They pay to jump off our cliff. If they jump anywhere else it's punishable by death. We also take jars of magic or fingers as payment."
"Do they give you the finger a lot?"
"No, but people like to flip us off. Just drive around these grateful dead. Pay the high hat at the booth. He only speaks alphabet."
The heart of the book lies in Sexica and Nikoli, lolling about naked in hotel rooms, bottoms or boobs-up, ordering exotic room service, fetishising about food and discussing comics. It's such a warm, gentle yet enthusiastic relationship. There aren't many girlfriends who would smuggle a wolf's willy for your birthday then sew it on you themselves.
There are diagrams, maps and menus, all riddled with wordplay, and the free-roaming narrative goes wherever it pleases. Its many excursions take in all manner of visual feasts. I don't know which I loved most: the network of sky-high plumbing with its invisible "disbelief suspension bridge" or the semi-futuristic, medieval mountainside town where fur-snouted kitchen porter Moontoone dreams bad dreams about delivering food to the haunted Humming Tower while wrapped in the arms of his slumbering boyf who likes nothing more than repurposing magazine photos, snipping them out with scissors to make up stories then popping the best ones in his heart-shaped locket.
"I want to be tougher."
"poo. you're so tough. My Moontoone is the toughest. Let's find some tough pictures you can wear in my heart to remind you."
"I think that'd be nice."
Aww. For maximum pleasure, read at leisure and soak in this eye-bath for hours. Marinade your minds!