When a great antiquities collector is forced to donate his entire collection to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Nili Broshi sees her last chance to finish an archaeological expedition begun decades earlier—a dig that could possibly yield the most important religious artifact in the Middle East.
How to describe this complex and thrilling book? Think of it as Raiders of the Lost Ark as reimagined by a feminist Hergé, with a few light top notes of Raja Shehadeh thrown in for good measure (the latter being the Orwell prize-winning Palestinian lawyer who writes about hiking in the occupied territories). Every page is gripping, every frame profoundly political. If Modan has given us a tightly plotted adventure story, she has also delivered a brilliantly daring satire ... To have built such a wonderfully witty and enjoyable comic on such vexed territory is quite some achievement. But then, Modan is a uniquely talented artist and writer.
Tunnels Modan’s newest book, is also her most overtly political, though at first it doesn’t appear so ... by Page 55, Modan has us visually slam right into the gray concrete slabs that make up the separation wall skirting the occupied Palestinian territories ... Modan never stops being entertaining and drawing on genre — in this case, an absurd 'Seven Samurai' plot — as Nili pulls together a motley crew for the job, including a bunch of goofy young settlers and a Palestinian man named Mahdi whom she met on childhood digs with her father ... It’s a mix of motives that leads to near disaster, but also shows the ways Modan understands her part of the world: a place that must learn to better live with the friction of competing narratives.
Filled with intrigue, adventure, and humor ... In graphic novel format, with color panels filled with sly visual wit, and with a focus on an incisive exploration of human nature, Rutu Modan skewers many of the pretensions and purported truths trumpeted by archaeologists, academicians, antiquities dealers, and collectors ... Controversial Israeli political issues of the day form the underpinning of the story but, although they are vital to its understanding, politics and societal issues do not eclipse the adventure, the characterizations, or the spectacular art that is filled with facial expressions, interesting detail, and overall charm. Some of the larger panels are so filled with action or with historical resonance that those pages seem to be self-contained stories of their own; one notable example is a page depicting the exile of the Jews to Babylon. In other panels, a sense of the Israeli landscape is palpable ... Interesting and unusual, this book presents graphic storytelling at its best.