North Adams Transcript | John E. Mitchell | January 10, 2008
EXIT WOUNDS in The North Adams Transcript
'Exit Wounds' offers psychological suspense and a slice of life tale with modern day Israel as...
Thursday, January 10
Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan (Drawn and Quarterly)
With so much fiction that takes place in Israel, there is a tendency to focus on Jewish identity — no surprise there — and the country's place and legacy in its region. With the graphic novel "Exit Wounds," acclaimed Israeli cartoonist Rutu Modan has taken a different approach, allowing the well-trod circumstances to function as the backdrop for a more personal story to unfold.
Koby is a young guy without a nuclear family — his mother is dead, his sister has moved to America and his father is at best a phantom in his life. He passes his time with his aunt and uncle, sharing their cab as a means of income and generally stewing in the anger that his life has fostered. One day, a young woman tells him that his father was possibly killed in a bombing and though Koby rejects her concern, the mystery of the possible death begins to bubble within him.
Koby soon finds himself searching for the truth — did his father die in the bombing or is he still alive somewhere — as pushed along by the woman, Numi, who seems to have been dating Koby's father. What becomes apparent is that as the two lost souls
investigate the whereabouts of the man who links them, they are also learning more about themselves, discovering an alternate secret history to the incidents of their own lives and creating a connection with each other that may well herald a welcome new phase to each other's existence.
In Modan's Israel, terrorism is not a bombastic disruption of daily reality, but part of that routine, and it's striking how a mound of dead bodies can be dismissed more casually than a misdirected comment said in a negative tone by someone sitting next to you in a car. The reality is that the terrorism becomes a bad part of life, but not a disruption — it's part of the larger world and people adapt to that. It's all the personal stuff that trips you up, regardless of your station in life or the political situation in your country. What hurts you is not someone attacking your country, but someone attacking you, because that is a weapon that crawls under your skin and festers.
"Exit Wounds" is as concerned with the quiet moments of the hunt as it is with any resolution. The mystery unfolds and the mystery eventually shifts — you become less concerned whether Koby and Numi will find the father, and more interested in how they will make peace with each other and their pasts. As the mystery resolves itself and Modan allows life to go on, the idea that one must rectify the past and step into the future — and that it's best if you have a partner in this forward movement — take center stage and "Exit Wounds" becomes a powerful endorsement for not letting history permanently ravage you anymore than a terrorist attack should.