Mar 28, 2009

[Comics] Pride of Baghdad

Pride of BaghdadI've always appreciated DC Comics for the quality of their writing - let's face it, they come up with some pretty great stories. While some of their characters are a tad hokey, considering how long they've been in print, but the stories generally make up for things. When they came up with Vertigo Comics as a way of exploring more adult themes, they took the world of comic book based storytelling to new levels.

A friend of mine lent me his copy of this particular title, and I was certainly grateful for it. I have to admit that over the years, I've drifted away from comics to some extent and there are definitely times that I miss them. The expenses involved and the so many choices out there tend to overwhelm me, and so it's always nice to have someone make strong recommendations based on your shared interests.

Pride of Baghdad is an interesting graphic novel that creates a story around a little news item from the invasion of Iraq. As US forces were moving into the capital city of Baghdad, a small group of lions escaped from the Baghdad zoo and started to roam free. This book tries to give them a story.

At first it feels a bit too much like Disney's The Lion King - talking animals will always have some degree of childishness associated with it somehow. Then again, we're talking about a small pride of lions, and so they're not all cute and cuddly. They're wild animals, starved of the hunt due to their captivity.

Vertigo is known for it's edgy stories and of course more adult depictions of violence and this story does not disappoint. Just when you thought they couldn't pull off anything like that with a story about animals, they go on and startle you with the reality of things but blowing the head off a giraffe. That's not really a spoiler - just setting expectations of how violent it can get. They are in the middle of a war zone after all.

The story is a complex one, I have to admit. I don't even know how to discuss it without possibly giving away key part of the story or something. It just operates on so many levels when you get down to it - whether it's just about what survival means and what kind of a life you want to live, or it could be a subtle commentary on the war itself. Whatever. It's something. It's powerful. It's the kind of story you're going to read and re-read in the hopes of understanding things fully.

In other words, it's exactly the kind of story that's worth your time. It's the kind of graphic novel whose visuals amaze you while your brain tries to put everything together. It's definitely worth the purchase.

And I'm glad I got to read it.


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