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Review: Two Brothers

Two BrothersBrazilian-born twin brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá are two of the most talented comic creators working today, producing comics that are both visually beautiful and often thought provoking. With their latest graphic novel, Two Brothers (on sale in comic book stores on October 14 and in bookstores on October 27 from Dark Horse), the two create a read that’s heartbreaking and haunting.

Two Brothers is a stunning adaptation of the novel The Brothers by Milton Hatoum, one of Brazil’s most renowned contemporary writers. The books tell the tragic story of a fractured family divided by two identical brothers, Omar and Yaqub, who have nothing in common except for their bloodline and the fierce, possessive love of their mother. After a violent exchange between the young boys, Yaqub, “the good son,” is sent from his home in Brazil to live with relatives in Lebanon. When he returns to his hometown five years later, he’s a virtual stranger to his family. Despite their mother’s desperate pleas, a reconciliation between the brothers appears elusive.

The graphic novel is layered enough that it’d leave a book club debating its greater meaning for quite some time. The two brothers’ own change is set upon a cultural transformation, as well as the transformation of the city of Manaus itself. The graphic novel is about identity, love, loss, deception, and the dissolution of blood ties. At times the story feels like a Biblical parable, with lessons to glean from every page and every word printed.

With their black and white art, Bá and Moon strip what could be distractions instead focusing the reader on the words of the page as well as the beautiful art, keeping up the two’s record of delivering both with each of their works.

With over 200,000 copies sold in Brazil, The Brothers is taught in classrooms throughout the country and readers remain passionately divided by their different interpretations of the novel’s ambiguous ending. Its writer Milton Hatoum is considered one of Brazil’s most eminent contemporary writers, and through his original book, Hatoum criticized the Brazilian military regime that ruled from 1964-1985. Sadly I don’t know enough of Brazil’s history to fully grasp that deeper meaning of the graphic novel, but for those that do, this is another layer to appreciate.

Two Brothers is a fantastic example of the maturity that exists in the comics medium, a graphic novel that can be appreciated by comic fans, and those who enjoy good literature. It’s a beautiful read for many reasons, and easily one of my favorite graphic novels of the year so far.

Story and Art: Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review