The dust has settled, but if you’ve ever read a western or detective novel you know this is the last time you should stop paying attention. This series has been tense and political, but also quite fascinating as an American man traverses the complicated nature of Iraq. Is it good?
Sheriff of Babylon #5 (Vertigo Comics)
So what’s this about? If you haven’t been reading you’ll admittedly be completely lost. DC Comics preview reads:
Now that Chris and Nassir have stuck their noses where some people wish they hadn’t, everyone seeks shelter behind the gates of the American stronghold within the Baghdad Green Zone. When both Chris and Nassir’s wife Fatima are unable to sleep, they have an unlikely meeting of the minds and share their experiences from the War on Terror. By morning, Chris will see the Iraqi woman in a whole new light. Now a 12-issue miniseries!
Why does this book matter?
Tom King has written himself quite an original story; it’s based on his experience working in the Green Zone, which makes this comic feel that much more genuine and much easier to swallow. The fact that it’s drawn by Mitch Gerads who has proven he’s excellent at capturing photorealistic scenes and you have yourself a drama one hop and a skip away from being a solid TV show.
I love the use of blue here.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Capturing one long night of drinking between Chris and Fatima allows King to explore the truths of both characters. It’s equally important, in part because Fatima hasn’t been explored much yet, but also because it’s an open conversation between two cultures. They’re both open minded enough to discuss things not normally brought up like how they felt when the planes hit on 9/11. King does a fantastic job with the dialogue, making it feel fluid and natural. This is helped because of Gerads’ well-placed and timed character acting which sells doubt, confusion, and introspection. In some ways this is an exploration of both sides of the war on terrorism and it feels quite frank and will certainly spark conversation.
Ultimately this is one of those issues you need to read more than once. The characters are talking, but not talking directly and by the end you’ll need to read in between the lines to truly understand what was said. Ideas like what it means that Iraq is where we all began in Babylon are floated about in the characters’ drunken conversation, and because of their drinking real truths are said. It’s a testament to King’s work that the meaning is there at the surface waiting for the reader to pluck it up.
Gerads continues to nail these moments due to a panel structure that allows more reactions and a slower pace to the dialogue. Like a breezy morning, the issue moves at a slow but assured pace because of this and along the way Gerads manages to make you believe these characters are real and alive. He also uses a somewhat fun effect of bubbles around their heads to convey their drunkenness. This of course becomes more obvious and constant as they get drunker, and their lips become all the looser per the topics.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Needless to say this is a much different issue in the series as the pace is incredibly slow and the plot sits at a standstill. It’s not a bad issue, but for many the plot sits and waits as two characters speak and become friendly. It’ll be interesting to see if a bond was built here and how it will affect them moving forward.
So I guess you guys have nothing to do tomorrow?
Is It Good?
If you like dialogue or are interested in two cultures coming together to discuss somewhat serious things give this a shot. Everyone following along will be rewarded with some important themes that are bubbling to the surface.