Some of the best crime stories are set in locations where crimes are taking place on every corner. What better place to set a crime story than in Baghdad during the American occupation? I take a look at issue #2 to ponder the question, is it good?
Sheriff of Babylon #2 (DC Comics)
In the first issue we met Chris who works in the Green Zone and is generally new to the whole scene. He sat down with a bomber to try to talk her out of doing any harm to anyone, but she was quickly killed and he was quickly yelled at for being a nut. A few soldiers have turned up dead and Chris is on the case and needs the help of some local Iraqis to figure out what happened.
Why does this book matter?
Save for the fact that American actions in Iraq should be on everyone’s minds this is an important story as it delves into the culture over there as well. Writer Tom King is ex CIA so there’s probably more truth to this story than we may wish. It’s gruesome for sure, but also compelling as it takes us into the heart of a place most of us know nothing about.
It’s rough out there.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
King writes two very strong scenes in this issue one dealing with CSI-like autopsy detective work and another that reveals a gruesome surprise to the protagonist. The first works as it plays against the expectations we all have come to expect after seeing shows like CSI, but reveals elements of racism and untrustworthiness that Iraqis must face living amongst Americans. The second works very well as Chris’ Iraqi helper enters a home trying to do something oddly wrong, only to reveal maybe his actions were right. It’s twisted and weird and saying anything more would ruin the scene.
The art by Mitch Gerads continues to work very well with the material in a courtroom sketch artist sort of way. Gerads continues to mix up the layouts to suit the scenes from 9 panel pages to play up the back and forth talk between to characters to very cinematic wide panels to lead into the big twist near the end.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The bigger political storyline going on is completely lost on me. Either I’m not paying enough attention or we’re not supposed to know what exactly is happening. This makes these scenes frustrating as there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason for them. The female character continues to also be an odd development. It’s not helping that King ends here scenes on overly dramatic lines of dialogue that don’t seem very natural. Instead they read like statements to punch up the bigger picture meaning of this work. Due to these reasons these scenes feel like they’re getting in the way of Chris and his detective work.
Very nice layout!
Is It Good?
There’s a meaningful story here about Americans inhabiting a place they don’t belong and a crime story that’s as foreign and mysterious.