Comics – Pride Of Baghdad

8 04 2007

Pride Of Baghdad

Originally uploaded by swftoys.

Here is a comic that I read through in one sitting. Riveting, beautiful and powerful is the bottomline here. Arriving here in the SWFToys comic read list is Pride of Baghdad by Brian K Vaughan with art from Niko Henrichon. Pride of Baghdad gives an alternative take of the events leading to the true story of how a pride of lions left the Baghdad zoo after it was bombed in the Iraq invasion by American forces. It’s probably one of my best picks at the local comic book store.

Right off the first page of Pride of Baghdad, one can sense the potential of an excellent work through the beautiful artwork and muted inks. Readers are then introduced to the main cast – a pride of four lions. And they talk. The amazing thing is that Henrichon is able to depict each lion with a look that work with their ability to speak. It’s a look that is truly animal yet nothing kiddish like out of a Disney animated movie.

There is Zill, an adult male lion. Noor, Zill’s current lioness mate. Then there is Safa the old lioness and Ali the cub of Zill and Noor. Despite the confinement of a zoo, the captive environment has somewhat also attributed the top of the zoo hierarchy to these lions. The herbivores are still distrustful of the carnivores – just like in the wild. They only talk in close proximity because of the steel bars separating them. This restriction of freedom seemed a lost of freedom as compared to the vastness of the wild but the story questions the true meaning of freedom… and the price for it.

Set during the Iraq invasion, fighter jets streak across the skies unnerving the zoo residents. Of course, the animals have no clue as to what was happening but they do sense something different today. Routines in their confinement suddenly change and before they could truly appreciate the meanings behind it, the zoo is shelled by artilery fire. Animal compounds are blasted open and animals are killed by shrapnel. Don’t expect Disney family-friendly stuff here.

Finally free to roam where they wish, the lions stare into the wild they had always wanted while being captive. Now it is handed to them on a plate. Suddenly, all the plans for escape became redundant. Unbeknown to them, their escape into the ‘wild’ leads them through the desolation of war. As they leave the comforts of the zoo, they face the stark reality of their new found freedom. No longer was food thrown in front of them at regular periods of the day. The lions have to hunt or face starvation. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of dangers they now face.

Pride of Baghdad explores the perception of freedom. It is no coincidence that it is set in the Iraq invasion. In this context, many are faced with new found ‘freedom’ imposed upon them by the circumstances. The future is unknown and unfamiliar. Does it mean a better future or are there more perils ahead? You, the reader gets to decide. Pride of Baghdad is definitely a fine piece of art topped by great storytelling. Pick it up!

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