Friday, September 29, 2006

Pride of Baghdad: The Lion King Meets Apocalypse Now!

In my opinion, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD is a must read!

I finished it last night and I was blown away. I sold out of it immediately when it was released a couple weeks ago. So when I got my shipment this week, I broke my own rule and grabbed the first one.

This graphic novel is based on a true story you probably remember from the news a couple years back. In 2003 a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during one of the
US bombings of Iraq. This story follows The Pride’s short journey into freedom.

Artist, Niko Henrichon (Barnum!), creates a beautiful and believable world that has the cuteness of The Lion King but the horrifying reality of Apocalypse Now.

Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Runaways) again proves that he is one of the best of the new generation of writers. His dialogue flows so naturally and effortlessly, and best of all, his use of metaphors doesn’t get in the way of the story.

I must say that I was a little surprised that Vaughan took the high road and avoided being too political. It would have been easy to turn this into a Bush bashing story. Whether you believe President Bush is a liberator or conqueror, it would be hard to disagree with his subtle points. No matter how right or wrong this war may be, there are—and will continue to be—innocent casualties. It is easy to forget about them when we refer to them as collateral damage.

Many people are missing the subtleties of Vaughan’s symbolism. In my right opinion, he is not declaring Saddam Hussein and his ilk as victims. Yes, the Iraqi military liked to use the term, “The Lions of Baghdad.” However, this particular pride of lions represent the guiltless Iraqi people who were enslaved by Hussein. In fact, one of the stories main protagonist, remembers a brutal attack she received by certain “brother” lions. Uday and Qusay perhaps?

This parable also uses other animals to symbolize various countries of the world. The bear represents Russia and The Pride deals with him similarly to Iraq’s dealings with Russia. Also, note the actions and words of the monkeys, the turtle, the horses and even the birds. Let’s discuss who they represent.

The graphic novel format is the only way this story could be told. It wouldn’t have had the same impact as a monthly series. My only complaint is minor. The story reads a little too fast. You could easily read it in one or two sittings. However, this is mostly due to the great flow of the story. You really should read it more than once to catch all the nuances.

Go pick it up at your local comic shop. If they don’t have it, ask them to order it for you. If that doesn’t work, contact me and I will sell you a copy and mail it to you for free.


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Blogger Ryanetics said...

I completely agree with you on this one Rich! Vaughan does as incredible a job capturing at the effects of the war on the innocents as he does nailed teen dialog in the Runaways. If "Pride" wasn't so emotionally intense I would say it should be required reading for school kids.

Anyone who doubts the power of graphic storytelling needs to check this out.

11:44 AM, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Tradd! said...

I must say, I broke one of the 10 commandments and bought "Pride" at bad. Anyway, I've been looking forward to this book ever since I laid eyes on the cover art. It certainly didn't let me down. I loved the story (Vaughan always seems to deliver) but the art is what really blew me away. I had never heard of Niko Henrichon before "Pride", but I'll definitely keep an eye out for him now. I do agree on it reading a bit too fast, though; it only took me about an hour or so to read through. I'll be lending this one out to everyone at SCAD.

2:28 PM, September 30, 2006  
Blogger Fab Hatter said...

Wow. "Pride" was amazing... I wouldn't say it has the cuteness of Lion King, but the 'evil brothers' were lean and colored like Scar. The kid lion was adorable, though. as for required reading, it's be reat in High Schools. (they teach stuff that's far more graphic in AP. Even the Bible is surprisingly PG-13 at parts!) This is an incredible read for everyone. Hopefully it will have staying power beyond the Iraq War. (Provided this thing ends...)

7:12 AM, October 08, 2006  

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