The Sheriff of Babylon takes another intense twist in issue No. 3 when we learn that "Not all Americans are Cowboys."
Writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads are in the freaking zone on this issue, and props to DC/Vertigo for literally finding the two perfect guys to tell this story.
It's not enough just to talk about how gritty the art is or how deep the story connects with the generations of readers who grew up during the War in Iraq. King is a self-proclaimed format nerd, and he and Gerads are changing the way a creative team can play with panels/formats/symmetry.
Right off the bat, we get a 16-box panel with Christopher -- the American tracking down the people who took out one of his trainees and the trainee's family -- asking 16 different questions to Iraqi police officers in training. While the questions are different, the answers are the same:
These men have seen firsthand what happens when Iraqis work with Americans, and this plot point sent a shiver down my spine. When Christopher becomes vocally frustrated that the men are lying to him, he is told by an Iraqi supervisor:
"But I know not answering, not having trouble, this is not lying. This is telling the truth."
Gerads, in my opinion, is the best crime, justice war artist in the comic book industry. King's dialogue, plot and authenticity is on point, but Gerads just captures something so deep about the setting, conflict and the pain in each of the three main character's eyes.
Sofia, who we find more about her past as the family of a Sunni warlord, shacks up with Christopher in this issue and delivers some hard-hitting lines on her way to meet some diplomats. Just before a big bang of a twist takes place, she is talking to an adviser of sorts as she prepares a presentation.
"There is something about dirty Arab children that makes senators say 'yes.'"
That's where I'm going to leave the plot points and just focus on why you should buy this book. King is a former CIA operative who served in Iraq while he'll tell you it was only for about five months, he clearly has a crisp grasp on how life is over there.
He and Gerads obviously connect on a level that comic books haven't seen in some time (seriously, having a hard time comparing this duo to someone) and that alone is worth it.
This book might be a political crime drama, but the story is bipartisan. It's clever, deep and masterfully designed.
Give this book a shot. We're only three issues deep, so catch your asses up.
Rating: 9.5/10 Wow. King and Gerads playing around with format. Just beautiful. I'm a format nerd and a 9 felt too low.