cover image 2 SISTERS: A Super-Spy Graphic Novel

2 SISTERS: A Super-Spy Graphic Novel

Matt Kindt, . . Top Shelf, $19.95 (334pp) ISBN 978-1-891830-58-7

Writer/artist Kindt's work is more complex, ambitious and somber than its subtitle suggests. It begins with a theft in ancient Rome, hurtles centuries ahead to Venice, intercuts a tale of pirates with the exploits of a female WWII secret agent, and repeatedly flashes back to the agent's melancholy girlhood in the English countryside. Readers may be put off by the crude, caricatured manner in which Kindt (Pistolwhip ) draws human faces and figures. What's considerably more important is Kindt's mastery of visual storytelling: although using little dialogue, the narrative, with its multiple story lines, fractured chronology and plot twists, remains strong and clear. A strong feminist theme runs throughout: the book opens with a female slave escaping her bonds in imperial Rome, and another character, menaced by pirates, saves her life by turning pirate herself. The main character, Elle, led an introverted childhood in the shadow of her outgoing sister and their insensitive father. After losing the man she loves in a Nazi bombing, Elle becomes a grimly effective covert agent, and eventually discovers how she's been deceived. Both the woman pirate and Elle are the victims of men, and they adopt new identities in response, expressing their frustration through violence. But Kindt maintains an austere, thoughtful tone even in action sequences, and his two heroines eventually achieve a lonely form of freedom. (July)