"Freedom can't be given, Zill. Only earned."
Based on the true story of four lions who escaped the Baghdad zoo during the American bombing of 2003, Pride of Baghdad
is a Beast Fable
about the horrors of war, and the nature of freedom and captivity. Written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Niko Henrichon, it is a seriously massive Tear Jerker
. You have been warned.
The allegory is fairly open; it insinuates the collapse of Iraqi culture after being "freed" from Hussein's Baath Party. It also encompasses war is bad and war destroys more than just the enemy side. It deliberates on the nature of freedom and, to a certain extent, the responsibility of mankind to the innocents caught in the crossfire. Have we mentioned that you will
This series provides examples of:
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: Both played straight in the Beast Fable sense and averted with the story's heartbreaking appeal: watching the animals utterly fail to comprehend human machinations.
- Completely and utterly averted by Saddam Husein's horses, who don't speak and spend the whole time they're in the book running away from the lions. Justified by the fact that most horses are dumb as dirt (deliberately so due to selective breeding, as more intelligent beasts of burden like donkeys are notoriously stubborn) and spend nearly all their lives between two emotions: blind obedience and mindless terror.
- Bears Are Bad News.
- Child Soldier: What the monkeys try to turn Ali into.
- Cool Old Lady: Safa.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Taken out to the woods, shot and left for dead.
- Eye Scream: Safa. TWICE.
Five Four Man Band: While they're short by one, they compare better to a Five-Man Band than to a Four-Temperament Ensemble.
- Foregone Conclusion: It just kind of is. Especially if you read the article the story was based on.
- Gentle Giant: Zill, the male of the pride.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Or maybe it should be good lions have good ... well, anyway, Zill and Noor.
- Humans Are Bastards: Particularly invoked in the scene with the sea turtle.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: Oh, man ... the poor giraffe in the opening scene.
- Infant Immortality: Averted. Ali gets shot at the end along with the other lions.
- I Uh You Too: "I hate you old woman."
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Safa the lioness.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you know the story is based on a real life newspaper article, then you most likely know how it ends.
- Meta Guy: Arguably, the Turtle.
- Pet the Dog: Safa is nice to Ali, the lion cub. She also rescues him from the monkeys.
- Rape as Drama: In Safa's past.
- Scenery Porn: Niko Henrichon can draw.
- Shrug of God: Brian K. Vaughn has said that the story is meant to be taken as the reader takes it, not that he was trying to propagate a particular opinion.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Played with, especially since the story makes use of clashing ideals among the lions.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: All of the main cast are shot and killed by U.S Soldiers.
- Talking Animal: Well, yeah,
- Time Abyss: The sea turtle, being old enough to remember the first Gulf War, is this to the lions due to their shorter lifespans.
- Took a Level in Badass: Zill.
- The Unseen: Humans rarely appear in the story, and when they do, their faces are never shown. The effects of their actions, however, are everywhere.
- Driven home when the pride is shot to death at the end. The humans who kill them are completely unseen by the reader until after the pride is dead.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The artists took Artistic License to make a backstory for the lions in the newspaper article.
- The War on Terror: Used as a backdrop to the story and a big provider of dramatic irony. Not to mention that the story itself is a commentary on it.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Noor the lioness.
- Your Head A Splode: The Giraffe. In one of the most defining Mood Whiplash moments in the graphic novel.