EXIT WOUNDS reviewed by 2theadvocate.com

The Comic Book Oscars

2theadvocate.com    |    Patrick Rills    |    August 1, 2008

"Comics books, like other entertainment media, is not without its own self-congratulatory, over-hyped annual awards. The Eisner Awards are given annually in the spotlight of the comic industry’s biggest stage, Comic-Con International, to the works of the past year that best exemplify the medium as a legitimate art form, something comics have had troubling doing since “Batman” movies had budgets under $1 million.

The Eisner Awards, affectionately known as the “Oscars of Comics,” are named for legendary cartoonist Will Eisner (“The Spirit”), who did more single-handedly to progress comics as art than all of the Eisner Award shows ever conducted. But because of the award’s association with this comic legend, the Eisners still remain relevant and prestigious, even if their lack of celebrity gossip, opportunistic fashion designers and monstrous egos keep them under most people’s radar.

This past weekend, the 2008 Eisner Awards were presented at Comic-Con in San Diego. Awards are given in more than 25 different categories, including individual awards for best writer and artist. Below is an in-depth look at “Exit Wounds” by Rutu Modan winner of Best Graphic Novel – New and “Justice League No. 11” by Brad Meltzer and Gene Ha, winner of Best Single Issue. You can see the complete list of winners on their official Web site.

“Exit Wounds” by Rutu Modan
2008 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Novel – New

Life is rarely normal in Tel Aviv, Israel -- at least by American standards. Senseless bombings are so common that the characters in “Exit Wounds” have trouble keeping them straight. But despite living a somewhat normal and mundane life, even young cab driver Koby Franco cannot escape the effects of Israel’s struggles with terrorism.

When Koby is contacted by a female solider named Numi, who suspects that Koby’s father was the unidentified victim of a suicide bombing, he embarks on a mission to collect clues of the last day of his estranged father’s life to confirm the possibility. The challenge of tracking a man he hardly knew combined with the emotional weight of the memories of his father’s emotional abandonment complicates Koby’s search for a man who has been distant and elusive since the death of Koby’s mother.

Koby is not even sure what kind of person his father really was, and after learning about his father’s relationship with Numi, who is close to Koby’s age, he isn’t sure if he even wants to find him. But Numi’s memory of his father is a stark contrast to everything Koby remembers about him, and he clings to the notion that maybe his father was a different person.

However, as their search unfolds, each new piece discovered by Koby only reinforces the tarred image of his father. His journey of anxious discovery leads to unfulfilling reaffirmation, leaving Koby more uncertain of his father’s identity than before.

Rutu Modan crafts this emotionally complex story with precise subtlety. Her simplistic illustration style may seem inadequate at first, but it allows the emotion of the scenes to take precedence and puts the focus on the characters’ expressions, mannerisms and dialogue. “Exit Wounds” is a perfect example of art facilitating the story instead of obscuring it.

“Exit Wounds” displays the nuances and personalities that make Israel unlike the United States. Modan doesn’t shy away from exposing the reader to the social issues of modern Israel that come with being a country controlled by religious traditionalists. However, it is Koby’s story that dominates the pages and leaves the lasting impression."

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