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Review – Aaron and Ahmed: A Love Story

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Aaron and AhmedVertigo has taken up the reigns of a major publisher putting out some pretty ballsy pieces of work lately.  Aaron and Ahmed is a complicated piece of work and though it’s been over a week since I finished reading it, I’m still struggling to fully grasp it.  The title of the graphic novel calls it “A Love Story” and boy is it a messed up one, full of abuse (mostly in the psychological sense).  “What causes terrorism?” the graphic novel asks, but much the answer to the question, the graphic novel is deep and opens up more questions.

The tale is a metaphor of love following a member of the army who has a twisted relationship with a member of Al Qaeda in Guantanamo.  While at first glimpse the story focuses on the question of what makes a suicide bomber commit that act, the bigger question is why do we do anything we do?  Most importantly why do we fall in love?

Written by Jay Cantor with art by James Romberger, I struggle with the story.  On the surface it creates a cop-out answer as to why people murder in the name of God and terror, but deeper down it very well may nail why we act on love and feelings.  They rather risque surface story is a cover and has so many depths much like the subject matter itself.

The tail touches on 9/11, the war on terror, terrorism, torture and love.  It’s an in depth and complicated tail and one weeks after reading I’m still thinking about and wishing I had someone to discuss it with.

Plot:  Jay Cantor has put together a very interesting book.  On the surface it’s an exploration about the causes of terrorism but below it also focuses on love and our greater motivation to act.  What motivates us to do anything, and how do we learn this behavior?  That’s all here.  While I think the surface story is a bit of a cop-out in it’s answer as to the cause of terrorism, that isn’t the point of the story, there’s many layers here and that’s what makes it so rich and full of depth.  Rating: 8.75

Art:  Romberger’s art is really good and fits the story quite well.  There’s some interesting visuals and style choices, especially when it gets to Pakistan.  Much like the story, the art at times takes us down the rabbit hole, playing with our perception.  It’s quite good in that way and something I definitely would like to see more of.  Rating: 8.25

Overall:  Overall, I’m torn on the graphic novel.  I think the story is great but as I keep saying there’s a lot more depth than the simplistic view as to the cause of terrorism.  On the surface it gives an easy and somewhat silly answer, but deep down there’s way more to the story much like the complicated answer as to terrorism’s cause.  Overall rating: 8.5

Recommendation: Buy

Page count: 144 pages    Price: $24.99    Release Date: 4/6/2011

DC Comics and Vertigo provided Graphic Policy with an advance copy of this issue for FREE for review.