EXIT WOUNDS reviewed by Newsarama

“Is it too early to pick the best comic of 2007? I hope ot, because I’m proclaiming a winner.” / Newsarama / Michael C Lorah / September 20, 2007

Israeli cartoonist Rutu Modan’s Exit Wounds is the sort of emotionally moving, humanely relevant and gorgeously illustrated book that should be hanging on the gateway between the “outside world” and the “comicsverse.” Koby Franco is a young Israeli who hasn’t talked to his father, Gabriel, in two years. When Numi, a young woman and soldier, seeks Koby out with information that his father may have died in a café bombing, Koby and Numi, who until recently was Gabriel’s lolita lover, set out to learn the truth – which comes in many forms.

Modan’s characters are so rich and so palpable that I dare any reader to NOT get caught up in her story. Koby and Numi are two outwardly different people pulled together by completely opposing reactions to the only common factor in their lives, and everything – the language, the bodies, the facial expressions – supports the confusion and then slowly blooming awakening, friendship and insight that each gains during Exit Wounds’ 170-some pages.

Koby and Numi’s developing friendship has plenty of missteps, a believable patter of teasing and tension, and a great assemblage of supporting players who provide obstacles, bits of mutually unknown information about dad Gabriel, and humorous complications. The odyssey of a scarf – which Numi had knitted for Gabriel – pulls out the depth of the characters emotions. It draws out anger and fear when Numi finds it with a man who’d witnessed the bombing, as it later brings comfort, and then release when the scarf finally finds its final home. And no, I won’t tell if Gabriel is alive or not – he never actually appears (except in pictures), but his presence in Koby and Numi’s lives is massive.

The flat coloring and simple cartoons support the power of the narrative. Each of Modan’s lines carries significant weight. The characters’ subtlest emotions are readily readable, but the outlines remain loose enough that it’s easy to recognize yourself or your friends in the faces of the characters. Warm, gentle colors invite the reader in, snaring the reader in a gripping family drama.

It’s a story about two people searching for a third, and it ends with each of them finding him or herself. It’s human drama, and it’s the most realized depiction of life that comics has produced this year. Exit Wounds comes with my highest recommendation.

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