Early Review: The Sheriff of Babylon #1

SHERIFF_BAB_Cv1_563ac573d4c559.65152730Baghdad, 2003. Florida Police officer-turned-military contractor, Chris Henry is tasked with training a new Iraqi police force. When one of his trainees ends up dead, Chris is forced to team up with Nassir, the last remaining cop in Baghdad. Pulling the strings to bring them together is the mysterious Sofia, an American-educated Iraqi who has returned to take control of the city’s criminal underworld. This miniseries is a thrilling wartime crime drama told amid one of the most tumultuous times in modern history.

Written by Tom King with art by Mitch Gerads, The Sheriff of Babylon in a new eight-issue miniseries that is loosely based on King’s real-life experience as a CIA operations officer.

When I first heard about this new series from Vertigo I got excited. The idea of King, who has shown his writing talent with Grayson and The Omega Men, mining his work experience for a story was intriguing. I can’t even begin to envision his life as a CIA operations officer, and who knows what is fact and what is fiction, but the first issue is a fascinating start and not what I expected at all. And thinking about it all, I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The Sheriff of Babylon at its heart in the first issue comes off as a crime story. A straight up whodunnit, with dead bodies turning up, and someone having to solve the murders. At least that’s what it all seems like. But, what makes it interesting is the setting, Iraq during the US occupation. I don’t know what the on-the-ground situation is like, but King presents a corrupt situation, corrupt in spirit and corrupt in the traditional sense. Everyone seems to be dirty and broken.

Like a good crime caper, you need to pay attention to figure out what’s going on, this isn’t a comic that necessarily lays things easily out for you. And with this type of story I wouldn’t want it to.

That dirty, broken, and corrupt world, is helped by Gerads, who is no stranger to military focused comics and has shown he knows what he’s doing as far as that with The Activity. The art is gritty, and continues his distinctive style. The military aspects are drawn with what seems like a realistic look, at least what he puts on page make me believe this is what things really look like.

This feels like a comic where the setting will be as fascinating and engaging as the story itself. A gritty crime story set in a location many of us will never see, and a world we truly know little about. This is a comic you’ll want to buy, either as single issues or as a trade, I’m going to go with single issues myself because I want to see what happens next as quickly as possible after reading this first issue.

The Sheriff of Babylon #1 comes to shelves December 2, 2015 from Vertigo.

Story: Tom King Art: Mitch Gerads
Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics and Vertigo provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review