Pride of Baghdad

pride of baghdad cover trade paperback tpb
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10

Good looking, interesting idea

Not that into talking animal stories

Comic Info

Book Name:  Pride of Bagdhad

Publisher:  DC Comics/Vertigo

Writer:  Brian K. Vaughan

Artist:  Niko Henrichon

Release Date:  2006

pride of bagdhad art niko henrichon

Things change

In 2003, the war in Iraq has led to the release of a pride of lions into the city. Free for the first time in years, Zill, Safa, Ali, and Noor find themselves in a world they do not know and facing the danger of war. Freedom seems to be in reach for the lions, but the world is dangerous and they aren’t king of this jungle.

Written by Brian K. Vaughan, Pride of Baghdad is a DC Comics graphic novel released under the Vertigo imprint. The book featured art by Niko Henrichon and was released to critical acclaim.

I love Brian K. Vaughan’s work and think he’s one of the better and more creative writers currently in the comic book world. Despite this, I wasn’t that interested in reading Pride of Baghdad when it was released and only finally read it when I found a discounted version of the book.

I will say this, there is nothing wrong with Pride of Baghdad. It is a nicely written story based on a true event (but obviously fictionalized since it is from the lions’ perspectives). The idea of these kings of the animal kingdom finding themselves in a new world is interesting and raises the question if sometimes a zoo is better and safer for animals (or if they had never been taken in the first place, would they still be alive?) The lions in the story have lost a lot of their natural ability to hunt, question what their relationship to their captors is, and learn that there are big and bad things lurking in the world they wanted to explore…they get to see the horizon, but it is one of the last things they see.

pride of baghdad leaving the zoo

A new world awaits!

I am just not generally into animal stories. That is a preference. Watership Down might be my favorite book, but it takes a lot to be grabbed by a “talking animal” story. Part of what made Watership Down great was the time and effort put into humanizing the rabbits. Pride of Baghdad seems to star and is over before it even really feels like it gets going. I wanted more substance from the story and more of an idea who these lions are/were.

The art by Niko Henrichon is good. It bright and vibrant. The desert environment leads to rich hues and warm colors. The animals encountered by the lions have fun designs and the bear is rather terrifying (plus, you get nasty things like the head of a giraffe blown off). The ending of the story is of course tragic and Henrichon’s art combines with the storytelling to make it a real punch in the gut.

Pride of Baghdad is a good story, but it isn’t necessarily my type of story. I can enjoy it for its surface, but I think Vaughnan could have pushed it farther and created more developed, rounded characters. It does interest me enough to seek out the real story of the real bombing that hit the zoo and the attempts to round up the animals who didn’t become meals for the starving people…the whole story is so rich that I think there was much more that could have been done, but sit back for a nice quick read if you haven’t read the book.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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