Pride of Baghdad (Hardback)

Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Niko Henrichon
Titan Books
RRP: 18.99, US $19.99, Cdn $26.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 8457 6242 1
ISBN-10: 1 84576 242 8
Available 20 October 2006

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 freedom - can it be given or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice...?

Pride of Baghdad is based on a true story in as much as a number of lions did indeed escape from Baghdad zoo during the American airstrikes. The ending is also loosely based on fact, but the rest of the narrative is told from the point of view of the lions and, occasionally, the other animals that were left to roam Baghdad after their home/prison was destroyed.

What we are presented with is a sort of adult version of Disney's The Lion King. The illustrations of the lions are - especially for the cub - look like something out of a kid's story - all cute and big eyed. But, their surroundings and situation are more akin to something out of the movie Three Kings.

When stripped to the bare bones Pride of Baghdad is a pretty simple tale - the whole plot could easily be summed up in a sentence or two. But the finished result is so much more than the sum of its parts.

While Brian K. Vaughan's story is well structured, it is Niko Henrichon's artwork that really makes this graphic novel a joy to read. I was therefore extremely surprised to learn that this was only his second journey into the world of graphic novels. Watch out for Henrichon - he's already managed to hit a level of quality that most artists take years to reach.

Even if you've never read a graphic novel before in your life Pride of Baghdad will convert you to the comic medium.

Darren Rea

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