Over the last year, Tom King and Mitch Gerads have delivered a mix of espionage story, crime epic, and war comic in The Sheriff of Babylon (Vertigo), based in part on King’s time in Iraq working for the CIA. But lingering over the book the whole time is the secret behind an ugly act of violence unraveled was the question of how a book about a conflict we’re still fighting could end. And the answer is one that will stick with readers.
What’s welcome about the book — and its sure-to-be-controversial ending — is the way King and Gerads don’t try to put a bow on the Iraq conflict. There are no terrorists with AK-47s, just gangsters, morally conflicted politicians, mothers without children, bureaucrats afraid for their own necks, and a panoply of other people stuck in a mess somebody else made for them.
Gerads in particular closes the book with a stark few pages that sum up the futility that pervades the book. The Sheriff Of Babylon is arguably about why “nation-building” from the outside fails. It might be the most haunting, and important, comic you read this year.