By Tom King (Author) and Mitch Gerads (Illustrator) DC Comics/ Vertigo (Publisher)
It’s 2003 in Iraq: Saddam Hussein has fallen, and the U.S. military occupies Baghdad. The city’s civil servants have fled, and independent contractors from the U.S. are training new ones, including police. Then, the body of one of those trainees is found underneath the Swords of Qādisīyah. This is how Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ story begins, and the tension ratchets up from there.
More like a crime drama than an examination on modern war, King interweaves the lives of three people: Christopher, a former Los Angeles police officer subcontracted to train Iraqi police; Nassir, a former Iraqi police officer and the victim of tragedy; and Saffiya, a U.S.-raised Iraqi returned home to facilitate activities between the U.S. military and local factions.
Each character is fleshed-out and fascinating, likable and relatable, and that makes the rising tension all the more palpable. King’s writing style is stunning and engaging, and his depiction of the surroundings, having spent time there as a CIA agent, adds authenticity that might be otherwise absent.
Gerads, an artist very familiar with drawing modern military equipment and personnel from his stints on Punisher (Marvel) and The Activity (Image), reaches an all-new level of excellence, rendering King’s scripts perfectly and adding an extra sense of depth with his impeccable character acting. He depicts the city and the characters with the same sense of danger, alienation, and an odd sense of familiarity that engages the reader further.
Not for the faint of heart, this crime drama reads like no other, but also offers a unique experience, and is well worth the read.
Review by Michael Hoffert Jr. and brought to you by Queen City Bookstore.