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Is That A Horizon?
Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
© 2013 James LaFond
2006, Vertigo, NY
In 2003 four lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during the American bombing of Iraq. That is the truth printed on the inside leaf of this hardback comic. The fate of the lions is announced on the last color panel of Baghdad burning at night.
The approach taken by the author was to use the convention pioneered by Aesop and perfected by Kipling with the Jungle Book, in which animals speak to one another. The story begins with a warning from a crow that the sky is falling. It then takes off with a plot hatched by the lions to escape the prison. The best scene was a conversation between an ibex and a lioness about the jailbreak. The lioness wanted the ibex to get the keys and pass them to the monkeys who would unlock the gates. The ibex objected, suggesting the lions kill the guards. The lioness countered with the observation that the guards would not get close enough to the lions because they knew they were violent. The ibex she said should put his horns to good use.
This seems at times like a bizarre allegory of human politics, with the various animals, oppressed by the same ruling power, never-the-less at each other’s throats, making a fitting metaphor for ethnic strife among humans. The fantastical tale is bracketed by reality, a brutal reality it must return to. Within those bounds it was well done and surprisingly readable.
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