Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
During an American bombing raid in 2003, four lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo. That true story is the basis for this excellent fable by Vaughan (Ex Machina; Runaways) and Henrichon in which the animals can talk to one another and discuss the relative merits of captivity and life in the wild. After they're unexpectedly freed, Zill, the alpha male; his one-eyed ex-lover, Safa; his current lover, Noor; and Noor's cub, Ali, must fend for themselves in an unfamiliar land: the ruined city. They discover dangers both man-made and-despite Noor's insistence that animals can rise above their baser natures-among their own kind. This graphic novel works as an adventure story; a meditation on the pursuit, the problems, and the meaning of freedom; and a thoughtful allegory about the war in Iraq, with every scene having a deeper subtext. Vaughan's lions, with distinctive and well-rounded personalities, inspire sympathy; Henrichon's animals are expertly rendered, and his coloring is lush (with some gore in the battle scenes). This is an important work, strongly recommended for all adult collections.-S.R. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Starred Review. This story of a pride of lions that escape from the Baghdad zoo during Operation Iraqi Freedom bombing is simple, lavishly drawn and devastating. The four lions--Zill; his two wives, the young, ideological and passionate Noor and the older, more cautious Safa; and his son, Ali--must negotiate life outside their pen. The insanity of war and of Saddam's state comes out in Henrichon's stunning images, which can move seamlessly from earth-rocking video game to a grieving peaceable kingdom. A turtle mourning his dead family notes that the local humans called their tanks "the lions of Babylon," and then the tanks rush in. Later, an image of Safa facing a portrait of a winged lion backed by lightning is startling, as she wanders the splendor of an abandoned palace in wonder. Without taking sides, Vaughan has his marvelously imagined characters debate the concept of freedom versus desire for safety, and fills the animal conflicts between lions, antelopes and monkeys with all-too-human tropes of honor and betrayal. Pride parodies the surrealism of war, with bewildered yet realistic animals among the ruined, megalomaniacal monuments of Baghdad--and the total effect is memorable. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-A heartbreaking look at what it's like to live in a war zone. Inspired by true events, this story tells of four lions that escape from the Baghdad Zoo during a bombing raid in 2003 and encounter other animals that offer unique perspectives, such as a tortoise that survived World War I. They begin to question the nature of freedom. Can it be achieved without being earned? What is its price? What do the lions owe the zookeepers who took care of them at the cost of keeping them in captivity? Where should they go? What should they eat? The four lions soon realize that a desert city is nothing like the grassy savannas of their memories. Their experiences mirror those of the Iraqi citizens displaced by the conflict. The book succeeds as a graphic novel and as an account of the current crisis. Henrichon's full palette emphasizes browns and grays that evoke the sands of the country, while his long brushstrokes and careful attention to detail reflect the precise and minimalist dialogue that Vaughan uses. An allegorical tale with compelling and believable characters, Baghdad makes it clear that without self-determination, there can be no freedom-Erin Dennington, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Vaughan and Henrichon recount, from the escapees' perspective, a real incident of the Iraq War in which lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo. Beautiful watercolor panels display the lion pride's individual personalities as well as their natural zeal for freshly killed meat. When bombers lay waste their artificial den, two lionesses, a cub, and the pride's patriarch wander through the broken zoo landscape and then into town. They confront wonders, many of them nightmarish: dead humans, a captured and mistreated lion (used as a symbol of the Iraqi forces), the horizon, and, eventually, their assassins, American soldiers. Although this is in many respects a talking-animal comic, the politics and science of captive creatures and a war-torn land are respectfully limned by Vaughan's characterizations and Henrichon's attention to anatomical movement and architectural detail. The lions' particular viewpoints--male, female, old, young--allow moral questions to be considered from several experiential bases. This has the potential to become a crossover discovery for readers unfamiliar with or unconvinced of the graphic novel's literary capabilities. FranciscaGoldsmith.