Trade Post: Vimanarama

VIMANARAMA (Vertigo/DC)
Written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Philip Bond
Collects Vimanarama #1-3
I’ve become quite the Grant Morrison fan in the past few years, but it wasn’t always like that. Sure, I liked JLA when it launched, but I didn’t really have a concept of him as a writer, I just liked the big, crazy stories. Since then I’ve read a good chunk of Morrison’s work. Animal Man, All-Star Superman, Final Crisis, Seven Soldiers and his Batman stuff are favorites. I’ve heard good things about New X-Men, but every time I try to read it, I get stopped dead in my tracks by some truly terrible artwork. Invisibles baffles me on pretty much every level, so I’ve never made it through the first volume, but I haven’t completely counted it out.

Back when Morrison took a break from big-time superhero comics to put out three miniseries’ through Vertigo, it seemed like a strange choice to me, but now that I’ve read more about him, it all makes sense. It was 2004 when We3, Seaguy and Vinamarama came out and each one got different levels of praise with We3 becoming the hands-down favorite. I read it in trade form a year or so later, but it didn’t really land with me and I haven’t gotten my hands on Seaguy yet, but I did just read Vinamarama and found it to be pretty interesting.

The story follows a young man who finds a secret city underground named Ali. His little brother accidentally brings about the return of some ancient baddies and it’s up to him to wake up the god-like heroes from a bygone era. But, at it’s core, the book is really a love story as Ali finds himself instantly attracted to Sofia, the young woman he’s supposed to betroth through an arranged marriage. As it happens, she’s a copy of the Ultrahadeen’s head god’s long lost love, so the real question is whether she will chose the god who can give her limitless power or the boy she just met, but kinda has a thing for.

In true Morrison fashion, Vimanarama doesn’t hold your hand as it zips between locations, philosophical ideas and trains of thought. I actually found a lot of thematic similarities between this book and Morrison’s All-Star Superman and Final Crisis/Superman Beyond stuff. The main god, who goes by the name Ben Rama, has a very Superman-esque love for a human. Unlike the Lois/Superman relationship, though, our heroine Sofia has no real interest in hanging out with a god because their lives are so different. It’s kind of like watching the Lois/Clark/Superman dynamic played out but with Superman and Clark split in two. There’s also a lot of esoteric and philosophical stuff about life and death and the space between that seems ripe for some real literary critique, but I have a baby now, so that won’t be coming from me.

I absolutely love Philip Bond’s art in this book. I think this might be the first work of his I’ve actually read (as opposed to marveling at the covers he’s done for The Exterminators and the like), but I love his mix of stylized characters that remind me of some random homemade comics I’ve seen in my day and the clear Jack Kirby influence when it came to the Ultrahadeen and the bad guys. I almost didn’t like how Kirby-esque the art was, but it seemed like more of a tribute than a rip, so I dug it. Kind of “What if Jack Kirby designed heroes and villains based on Pakistani/Indian/Islamic mythology.” It’s pretty rad. Plus, he does a killer job when it comes to those wild Morrison panels where images are made up of words and gods are floating around on trippy backgrounds.

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