Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 176 (7/29) -- 2 Sisters by Matt Kindt

Titles can explain a lot about a work...or they can be misleading. Take, for example, 2 Sisters, which was Matt Kindt's warm-up graphic novel for Super Spy, telling a few entwined stories related to WWII espionage as Super Spy would later tell a tangled, twisted web of stories in the same milieu. (I reviewed Super Spy, a couple of years back, for ComicMix.)

2 Sisters does primarily tell the story of two women, and one of them, Elle, does have a sister, Anna. But the other woman 2 Sisters follows is not her sister -- though there is a resemblance -- but a nameless woman a few hundred years before, who becomes a pirate when the ship she's traveling on is attacked. But, perhaps, in deeper ways, these two women are like sisters -- in the ways that they're both manipulated and used by men, both surviving alone and by their wits in a hostile world, both strong and self-reliant enough to change themselves to survive and make it out to the other end.

Elle comes to London as a young orphan, and gets a job driving an ambulance. She meets a young man, starts to fall for him -- and then sees him killed by a German bomb. Soon afterward, she's recruited as an "operative" for some branch of British Intelligence, to work behind enemy lines, passing messages and performing the occasional murder. Elle joins up, perhaps because she doesn't have much choice, or perhaps to do her bit for the war effort, or perhaps just to do something.

The other woman goes through her own travails -- wordlessly, without explanations or filters -- as most of 2 Sisters is told with only passing dialogue and no narration, letting the events stand for themselves. Kindt's raw, blocky style works well with this kind of stark storytelling, and he uses a lot of pages to tell this particular story -- nearly 350 of them, spanning centuries and continents but always circling around WWII and the life of Elle and her sister.

That lack of explanations leaves the reader a lot of ground to fill in himself, to work out the details and fit together the pieces of the puzzle (as a real spy does, of course) -- and that's deeply appropriate for 2 Sisters. For a book of this physical size and heft, it tells a remarkably quick, tight, personal story, of two different women each going through their own trials to come out the end, not unchanged but still themselves.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

No comments:

Post a Comment