All good things must come to an end sadly, even Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Sheriff of Babylon this week. We already lost Vision…why are you doing this to us, Tom?! We check out the final issue to see if he stuck the landing; is it good?
Sheriff of Babylon #12 (Vertigo Comics)
So what’s it about? For the full Vertigo summary just read this:
Chris, Sofia and Nassir have pursued Abu Rahim, navigated complicated red tape, run afoul of some very bad men and so far have managed to make it to the other side. So far. It’s taken a year and 12 issues to get here, but this is everything we’ve been building toward. Don’t miss out on the big finale of the comic Mental Floss has already declared the best of 2016.
Why does this book matter?
With the explosive (literally) last issue you’ll need to read this to find out what happened. The fact that this series has taken up one year in real time and in story time is intriguing, as we get to see in this issue the wear and tear 12 months can have on you when living in Baghdad.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
At what point do we just give up?
This issue opens with Chris and Nassir overseeing Iraqis who are training and they’re not doing well. It’s a reminder that this entire operation is futile and there comes a point where the kettle boils over for nothing. That’s this issue. King explores the upsetting truth that we can all lose our ability to care or do the right thing when push comes to shove. I don’t want to spoil a thing here so I’m staying rather vague, but it’s important to note King hammers home the very sad and uncomfortable truth that, when living in a den of vipers with constant chaos, everyone will become unfeeling.
King makes a strong statement in this issue, reminding us our heroes are still very human and level headed, but in Baghdad progress is made by doing very bad things. The characters know it’s wrong, but maybe that’s why it’s right. This issue will make you chew on morality in a variety of ways.
The art by Gerads continues to be great–it’s at once gritty and realistic. You get the sense that our three main characters are weathered, tired, and beaten down to nubs. The “villain” of the issue is also weathered and beaten, as if their ability to hate and do wrong has also brought their humanity down to some basic level. You see that in the facial expressions and body language. There’s also a one-page montage of sorts as a joke is being told that’s quite haunting, reminding us the death and destruction caused by the war is lost on the Americans. Poignant stuff.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This is, much like the entire series, an issue that requires you to ruminate, digest, and think about the actions and dialogue spoken. There are no direct answers, no magic wand that makes everything right, which is sort of why it’s so beautiful. That will assuredly frustrate some, but if you’ve been reading this far you’ll appreciate it. That said, does it say enough? Is there an emphatic period at the end of this series? I’m not so sure. I’ll need weeks to process it.
Here we go…
Is It Good?
Much like life, Sheriff of Babylon is difficult, with its answers wrapped in pain and human frailty. It’ll make you think, and we don’t say that enough about comics today.