Review: The Sheriff of Babylon #5
Now that Chris and Nassir have stuck their noses where some people wish they hadn’t, everyone seeks shelter behind the gates of the American stronghold within the Baghdad Green Zone. When both Chris and Nassir’s wife Fatima are unable to sleep, they have an unlikely meeting of the minds and share their experiences from the War on Terror. By morning, Chris will see the Iraqi woman in a whole new light.
You know that scene in war movies where the soldiers reflect on life and their own lives under the moonlit sky just before a battle commences, one which there’ll be some casualties? That’s The Sheriff of Babylon #5, as Chris and Fatima grab a bottle in Vodka, sit down, and reflect on how they got to this moment. And it’s so good. Luckily we’ll be getting more of it as the miniseries has been expanded to 12 issues.
This issue does a lot, especially for Chris, as we start to get a better idea as to why he enlisted and what his worldview is. His history as a cop is examined and while the 9/11 connection might feel like it’s a stretch, it’s still believable the impact it’d have on him, with his guilt guiding him in his new career decision. That all might seem vague, but I don’t want to ruin it. It also again adds layers to the series title, especially the “sheriff” part, much like last issue.
The brutal honesty writer Tom King gives Fatima is impressive. He creates a deep, complex, realized character who is a personification of the muddy mess that is foreign policy. She reflects on her thoughts on Saddam, the embargo against the Iraqi people, and 9/11, all of which makes sense in a worldview that’s guided by personal experiences. Her biggest focus is so simple and a product so many of us take advantage of and don’t think about. When she mentions it, it creates a weird connection where we can better connect with at least some of the hardship she’s gone through, it’s an attempt to create that connection.
Both characters are a result of their experiences, like we all are, and this issue emphasizes how it can be the little things that have some of the greatest impact.
The art by Mitch Gerads as always is impressive, and here without exciting moments (it’s seriously 9 page panels of two people drinking and talking), it’s the small details he adds that makes a difference from a possibly boring scene full of speeches, to an interesting back and forth where every movement and position is examined. But, it’s not just that positioning and movement that’s impressive, it’s also the moments not involving Chris and Fatima that are so telling, a story and commentary expressed only with images. An example are the closing panels featuring an artifact of the past and a cat.
The Sheriff of Babylon again and again impresses with its layered storytelling that challenges the reader to not just read between the lines and deeper meanings, but also think about history (both modern and of the distant past) and how that history has impacted our own views. It’s an excellent discussion of modern and world events and the current situation in Iraq, and a discussion whose politics are muddied and not so clear. This is a prime example of how comics are more than just spandex and superpowers and instead can be used to explore and discuss our modern times and the geopolitical world.
Story: Tom King Art: Mitch Gerads
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy
Vertigo provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review