Koby Franco, the main character in Rutu Modan’s first full-length graphic novel, is a taxi driver in Tel Aviv. His somewhat complacent life is turned upside-down when he meets Numi, a soldier in the army who has been having a relationship with Koby’s estranged father. Numi has not heard from Gabriel in three weeks, and she thinks he may be the unidentified victim from a suicide bombing at a bus station in Hadera. She enlists Koby’s help, and together they embark on a journey that proves to be more revealing than either could have imagined. The suicide bombing, having taken place before the book begins, is not a prominent part of the story. Readers are given glimpses of the aftermath of the attack, such as snippets of newspaper articles, a mangled ceiling in the train station café, and one gruesome scene of an autopsy. The message seems to be that daily life in Israel goes on despite acts of violence.
Modan, an accomplished illustrator and cartoonist, is a founding member of Actus Comics, an independent publishing house for Israeli alternative comics artists. Her short works have been published in different collections, among them Jetlag, five graphic novellas written by Israeli novelist Etgar Keret and illustrated by members of Actus Comics (Toby Press, 2006). Exit Wounds serves as a perfect vehicle to showcase Modan’s unique drawing style. Her delicate lines are enhanced with colors that range from muted grays and greens to bright pinks and yellows. Kobi, Numi, and the people they meet in their efforts to find Gabriel are endowed with expressive faces that reveal emotions ranging from boredom, frustration, and annoyance, to admiration, surprise, and acceptance. The graphic novel format is ideal for conveying the subtleties in this completely realistic and engaging story.
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