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Pride of Baghdad    by Brian K. Vaughan & Niko Henrichon order for
Pride of Baghdad
by Brian K. Vaughan
Order:  USA  Can
DC Comics, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

When I first heard about this graphic novel I was immediately interested; apart from it being by a great writer (who is also the creator of the award winning Y The Last Man comic book series), it sounded provocative, even more so as it is based on a true story.

The true story is a quick and simple one to tell: with the invasion of Baghdad in 2003, one of the first places abandoned was the zoo. With the ensuing bombs and destruction, many cages and pens were broken open. A pride of lions escaped and began walking around Baghdad until they were found by US soldiers, who were so shocked at the sight that they immediately opened fire. Pride of Baghdad is the lions' fictional story from the mind and pen of Brian K. Vaughan and with the beautiful and detailed artwork of Niko Henrichon.

The pride includes an aging male, his mother, his mate, and his single cub. In this world the animals talk to each other and Vaughn does a great job of capturing attitudes and individual characters. The pride leave the zoo, after rescuing the cub from a horde of baboons who were about to tear him apart, and travel the streets of Baghdad, looking into houses and palaces, searching for food. In one great palace they find a mighty statue of a lion and take spiritual comfort from its magnitude and the respect that humans give it. In this palace they also find a chained old lion who was a pet, presumably of one of Hussein's sons or family members. They also encounter a mighty bear, another pet who has broken free, and there is a great fight between the bear and the lions. As the inevitable demise of the pride approaches, their last view is of a beautiful sunset over the city of Baghdad. Before the cub dies, he gets to see his one and only view of the horizon.

Pride of Baghdad is a very sad story, and yet moving in the way the writing and art adds such emotion to these animals that one can't help but feel they deserved so much better than their horrible end.

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