We’re eight issues into this series and it’s safe to say we know the protagonists as well as we know any characters in comics today. They’re vividly real and unique…but how is issue #8? Is it good?
The Sheriff of Babylon #8 (Vertigo Comics)
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
Chris and Sofia are in the wrong place at the wrong time when a bomb goes off, threatening to add two more corpses to the body count that’s been growing on their own mission to get back at the murderers who started them on this path to begin with.
Why does this book matter?
This is the kind of series where it gets at the core of being a person. Via well placed captions, incredible pacing, and choice moments of dialogue, writer Tom King captures the frailty and courage incredibly well. The series has been so consistent at doing this there’s no reason to believe it’ll stop now.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Hmmm, something is fishy about this narrator.
You get the sense Tom King understands the big picture as well as the minutiae of each character’s action and thought process. The first few pages of this issue for instance open on a flashback while another character speaks to the character in said flashback. By juxtaposing the now with the then we get an instant tug at the heartstrings of a life lost. In the following scene the use of the word “Pow” over a black bar breaks up a scene, reminding us the characters are always under threat. In the next there are four pages of nine panels focused on Sofia talking on the phone. The panels never change their angle, but instead focus in on the woman speaking. Her reactions, her listening, and her thinking before she speaks. This scene allows you to read in between the lines. It’s this first two thirds of the book that show you how incredible this series is at storytelling.
This is of course also due to the fantastic art by Mitch Gerads. Mitch’s flashback has the pefect amount of color to wash the scenes in the feelings of an older, happier time. It’s not bright, but it’s not dreary either. The pace of the scene works so damn well as it closes on Nassir floating in the ocean content and as we close on the character we see his calmness, which then pulls back to reveal a nice beach and the kids playing–which is immediately shattered by the state he’s in currently on the following page. Later, in the scene with Sofia on the phone, every bit of her acting is phenomenal. I’d love to know if Gerads took pictures of himself or someone else for this scene, because it’s incredibly genuine. From how Sofia tugs at her hijab, to the eyes, there’s so much going on. Not just any artist can draw 36 panels of the same angle on the same character and make it work so splendidly.
I could go on like this about the remaining seven pages of the story which continue to tell a strong visual story with deeply meaningful implications. For instance, a rather harrowing moment involving a rug and a man chatting Chris and Nassir up–who couldn’t possibly know what’s really going on–and later the use of a Superman sheet as a tragic symbol. Beyond these elements though the pace is measured and always in control.
It can’t be perfect can it?
If you’re just joining this series it’s going to be tough for you to understand the gravity of the situation and the history these characters have together. That’s really your own fault though.
A happy family.
Is It Good?
Without a doubt this is a storytelling clinic in every way.