Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon

Completion Date: November 7, 2012
Reason for Reading: Recommendation from comic store friend.
From one of America’s most critically acclaimed graphic novel writers – inspired by true events, a startlingly original look at life on the streets of Baghdad during the Iraq War.
In his award-winning work on Y THE LAST MAN and EX MACHINA (one of Entertainment Weekly’s 2005 Ten Best Fiction titles), writer Brian K. Vaughan has displayed an understanding of both the cost of survival and the political nuances of the modern world. Now, in this provocative graphic novel, Vaughan examines life on the streets of war-torn Iraq.
In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD raises questions about the true meaning of liberation – can it be given or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity?
Based on a true story, VAUGHAN and artist NIKO HENRICHON (Barnum!) have created a unique and heartbreaking window into the nature of life during wartime, illuminating this struggle as only the graphic novel can.
Well, this was good. I am never sure what to expect when a book is told from the point-of-view of animals. It could either be a really good idea or turn out corny. I have been curious about Brian K. Vaughan for a while, though, and this was a standalone introduction. I think with being caught up most of the time in Fables and The Unwritten I am ready to start another series. I think it will be Y: The Last Man, but this was a good way to see what I was getting myself into and I thought Vaughan was worth checking out. He is! I was very impressed with this story despite having no idea what it even was when I walked out of the comic book store.

If you actually read the description, like I included above, you get a really good idea what you are getting yourself into. I just went by a recommendation and didn't read the description until after I had read the graphic novel. I was basically curious how much information they provide ahead of time. I guessed from the title and cover it was about lions in Baghdad, but I didn't know. I also didn't know it was based on a true story. I missed that bit of reporting when it happened! The comic is suggested for Mature Readers and I can tell why. It is not an easy setting to endure. It puts a different spin on the war in Iraq. I actually didn't catch on to the fact it was based on a real story until the end when it tells you. I am not sure if it made the story less impacting that I didn't know or not. I still got caught up in the story and maybe got a bit more so when I discovered I had just read something that happened.

There is not much else to tell. It is about lions. They get released by a twist of fate from the zoo. It is about their adventures and potential freedom. The youngest had never known what it was like to live outside of a zoo. The oldest had gotten use to the easiness of captivity. Then there is the mother in-between who dreams of seeing the world outside the zoo again. It leads to interesting contrasts as the story progresses. I sometimes worry about standalone graphic novels not giving you enough time to develop an attachment to the characters, but there were no worries there. And, the comic makes you think. It is not just about lions escaped from the zoo. It has wider-reaching themes that are worth checking out.

Definitely Recommended!


  1. I'm a huge Brian K Vaughan fan. I really enjoyed this one too.

  2. This was a really powerful book. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  3. I read this one a few years ago and it blew me away.

  4. This is one of the few graphic novels I enjoyed so much that I read it twice.

    I've just started reading Y: The Last Man and I've enjoyed the first few issues, so you've made a good choice for your next series to read.


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