Graphic Novel Review: Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan & Niko Henrichon

105703Title: Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Niko Henrichon (Artist)
Genre: Fiction – Historical Fiction
Length: 136 pages
Format: Graphic Novel
Publication Date: January 2, 2008
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Rating – 5/5

From one of America’s most critically acclaimed graphic novel writers – inspired by true events, a startlingly original look at life on the streets of Baghdad during the Iraq War.

In his award-winning work on Y THE LAST MAN and EX MACHINA (one of Entertainment Weekly’s 2005 Ten Best Fiction titles), writer Brian K. Vaughan has displayed an understanding of both the cost of survival and the political nuances of the modern world. Now, in this provocative graphic novel, Vaughan examines life on the streets of war-torn Iraq.

In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD raises questions about the true meaning of liberation – can it be given or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity?

Based on a true story, VAUGHAN and artist NIKO HENRICHON (Barnum!) have created a unique and heartbreaking window into the nature of life during wartime, illuminating this struggle as only the graphic novel can.


Good morning everyone! I am excited to share with you yet another graphic novel review. I know that I have been reading quite a few in the past week but after I read the last full length novel I reviewed I found myself in a little bit of a reading slump. I find that this sometimes happens to me when I a) read a really good book, b) read a really bad book, or c) when I’m a little stressed out with work or just life in general. I’d say that this particular occurrence of the dreaded “reading slump” occurred due to a little bit from column a and a little bit from column c. One way that I work through my reading slumps is to read some graphic novels or listen to some audiobooks so that is why you have seen a few more graphic novels than normal and why you will see a review later in the day tomorrow on an audiobook! Anyway, enough about that and onto my review of The Pride of Baghdad.

The Pride of Baghdad is a standalone graphic novel that is based on a true historical event thus satisfying the “Read a comic about a real life historical event” requirement for the Panels 2016 Read Harder Challenge. In 2003 during a bombing raid in Baghdad, four lions escaped the Baghdad Zoo. This graphic novel is the story of their escape and their short struggle to survive after it in a world that is hostile and war-torn…ultimately one that they don’t understand.

Going into this graphic novel, I really had no idea what to expect other than that I am a fan of what I have previously read from Brian K. Vaughan so my expectations were pretty high. I also could guess that seeing as how it was a perspective on war and it’s affects, the story would be somewhat sad and maybe tragic. Since I love animals so much, I knew that the possibility of my being pretty affected by it myself was pretty high as well.

The artwork was beautiful. I thought the landscapes were nicely done. The hope and then also, the devastation translated through the art so clearly. The facial expressions of the animals were all so detailed and striking, I found that they affected me profoundly which was really unexpected and some of that will stay with me forever.

For a large piece of the story I was convinced that I was going to give this a four star rating because I was enjoying it and there were definitely parts that impacted me a lot and made me think, it wasn’t until some of the last scenes that I knew that this would end up being a five for me. Only one other graphic novel has EVER moved me to tears (The Complete Maus) and this one is the second one to do that. It is really rare! I found myself crying and with a heavy heart. It was tragic…it was. It made me really sad and it just made me think about a lot of things like the impact of war, the value of life both human and animal, what animal liberation actually means and the impact of humanity’s ugly side on the rest of our nonhuman family living in the world with us. I can’t even handle this story.

I never knew that this was something that actually happened and I’m glad that I was able to experience the story, even if it is historical fiction and we may never know what those animals actually did or thought in the aftermath of their escape from the Baghdad Zoo. All I know is that the ending for me was just gutwrenching, but when it comes to kids or animals, I am a big baby.

I recommend this to anyone who loves graphic novels in general and is looking for something to read other than the standard superhero stories. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and if you do read it and it gives you sad feels like it did me, PLEASE come back here and let me know about it so we can be sad together.

Anyway, you will be seeing some posts in the upcoming days, probably an audiobook review tomorrow, a Top Ten Tuesday post and a few book reviews as well! I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday full of rest!

Happy Reading everyone!

4 thoughts on “Graphic Novel Review: Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan & Niko Henrichon

    • Thanks! I will definitely be recommending this to people. If you have any reccs let me know! Lately I’ve been in the mood to read alot of graphic novels so I’m looking for good ones to check out!

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