Jay Cantoe & James Romberger - Aaron and Ahmed: A Love Story (3 stars)

Jay Cantoe & James Romberger - Aaron and Ahmed: A Love Story

(Vertigo/Titan)

Novelist, scriptwriter and essayist Jay Cantor’s foray into comics starts as a simple examination of the relationship between an army doctor/torturer and a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, then heads off on a wild tangent concerning the linguistic programming of suicide bombers. The first third is nicely paced as Aaron attempts a new form of coercion using kindness and estrogen supplements to prise information on Al Quaeda’s ‘terror plans’ from Ahmed.

It starts to lose focus with the introduction of the concept of ‘memes’, in this case audio cues and chants used to encode the ‘meat computer’ for martyrdom, as our protagonists escape Cuba and head for Pakistan where Aaron is brainwashed in a quasi-mystical manner. Ending in New York with Aaron trapped in a battle with his own psyche as he fights against ‘an enemy inside me, a virus that would program my brain’, Romberger’s scratchy art brings a chaotic human quality to the story, but Cantor’s script is a sometimes confused take on a fascinating theme.

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