Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Pride of Baghdad

By Jason Mott
January 9, 2007 - 14:15

In April of 2003, a pride of starving lions escaped the Baghdad Zoo during the American bombing of Iraq. This is their story. Pride of Baghdad is one of the latest graphic novel releases from Vertigo that continues to expand the realm of graphic novel subject matter. Pride of Baghdad follows four lions recently freed from the Baghdad Zoo during the Operation Iraqi Freedom bombing of Baghdad. As the story progresses, questions are raised about the nature and definition of freedom. Question of whether freedom can be given, whether freedom must be earned and questions of what responsibilities come with freedom.

Brain K. Vaughan ( Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) deserves a hearty pat on the back simply from attempting Pride of Baghdad. While writing a story about lions is no new trick (just ask anyone over at Disney), writing a story about lions navigating the landscape of one of the most controversial American wars in decades takes something special. But what else should we expect from an Eisner Award winning writer? However, Vaughan’s writing in Pride of Baghdad is “great” in certain regards and only “good” in others. When it comes to handling the volatile nature of a story drenched in potential political gravitas, Vaughan does a great job of staying away from his own personal opinions of the war and allowing the story to center simply on the exploration of freedom, personal responsibility, and consequences. However, when it comes to basic character development, Vaughan only gets a “good” rating. As much as I wanted to invest myself in these characters, they never really managed to rise above the role of generic tools in the larger commentary on freedom. The lions around which Pride of Baghdad is supposed to orbit come away more as actors in the show, rather than the show itself.

Sculpting the face and form of Pride of Baghdad is Niko Henrichon ( Barnum!). As only his sophomore graphic novel, Pride of Baghdad threatens to install Niko Henrichon as a man to watch. Pride of Baghdad is a seductive piece of eye candy. Henrichon manages to achieve a wonderful range of depth and hidden detail. Every panel in Pride of Baghdad invites more stares and investigation than an Exxon Mobil’s quarterly profit report. Something new is always hiding in the ink and paint of Pride of Baghdad. Sometimes, it something as quiet and Arcadian as a sunset reflected from the surface of a pool of standing water. Other times, it’s a human hand—burnt, still, praying to be overlooked—poking out from beneath a pile of nondescript rubble. As far as resumes go, Pride of Baghdad just bumped Niko Henrichon to the top of the “Call Back for Interview” pile.

Last Updated: June 23, 2021 - 00:45

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