One of the scariest things about the setting in this comic is how there is an untamed lawlessness. Sure the American-run Green Zone is safe, but outside that you could drag a kidnapped victim along the street and nobody will pay you any mind. That’s a scary thought and knowing that writer Tom King actually experienced this lawlessness first-hand makes this reading all the more captivating. Is it good?
The Sheriff of Babylon #4 (Vertigo)
The series opened with protagonist Chris working in the Green Zone training Iraqis how to be soldiers. He’s a good person and isn’t jaded and sick of the Iraqis like other Americans. A few of his men were killed and he’s been on the hunt for who did it. Chris is failing to solve the case and the people helping him are even worse off. Nassir, a Baghdad cop and Sofia, an American-educated Iraqi working to take control of the criminal underworld, have both experienced attempted murder. This issue focuses on the fallout of what happened with Sofia and Nassir last issue.
Why does this book matter?
Tom King is one of the hottest writers these days who’s writing what could be the greatest Vision story ever. Meanwhile the art is by Mitch Gerads who has proven on Punisher and The Activity he knows how to handle true to life characters, blood and guts and plenty of guns.
A surprising and interesting intro.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The beauty of this issue is how it opens. King introduces us to a mythical story of a woman who falls in love with the moon and is beaten because of it. It highlights the sexism and abuse women go through in the Middle East and perfectly segues into Sofia’s story. In large part this issue is about Sofia and her journey as we witness how her involvement develops with Chris and Nassir and ultimately who she is in regards to them. I can’t be certain, but I think King is showing us a woman rising up in a crime world where women have no power. If he can pull this off it’s going to be something great and a story anyone interested in female empowerment should keep an eye on.
The action in this issue centers on Nassir who was kidnapped last issue. It’s quite tense as his captors cart him around and tell him he will most assuredly die. In many ways Gerads should be given credit for how well these scenes play out. Rendered in a very cinematic way, we witness what we must assume is a character we’ve grown to like walking to his death. I will say no more, but know it’s an exciting journey that’s incredibly shocking and surprising. It’s in these scenes you realize Baghdad is a very lawless place.
While some artists are good at showing choreographed fight scenes and others are strong at facial expressions, Gerads shows he’s a master at drawing choreographed emotional moments. Characters may not be fighting, but in a way they are via body language. For instance, in a few short panels Gerads has a way of conveying doubt, shock and pity between Sofia and Chris. It’s in his art that I see how strong Sofia is even though the characters around her view her as a typical weak Iraqi. This art will pay dividends when (if?) she rises up and proves she’s the biggest threat of them all.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Chris comes off as a bit too naive in some respects in this issue. King is obviously reminding us he’s a bit green, but in some ways it’s too strong which makes you lose a bit of respect for the character. Clearly he’s a fish out of water, but so far he hasn’t added much to the story beyond bringing us into this world.
You’ll feel like you understand Sofia quite a bit more after reading this issue.
Is It Good?
The story will capture your attention via character and surprise you with its ability to convey action and ultimately heart. If you’ve been paying attention it’s a series that should not be missed.
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