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. Vaughan 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 cry?
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.
- Bears Are Bad News: Fajer, a monstrous black bear, and the most morally black character in the comic.
- Bittersweet Ending: All of the main cast are shot and killed by U.S Soldiers, but, at the very least, they died free, and Zill got to see one last sunset.
- Death of a Child: Ali gets shot at the end along with the other lions.
- Escaped Animal Rampage: A pride of lions escape the Baghdad Zoo during the U.S. invasion
- Foregone Conclusion: It just kind of is. Especially if you read the article the story was based on.
- The Ghost: 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.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Or maybe it should be good lions have good ... well, anyway, Zill and Noor.
- Humble Goal: All Zill really wants is to see another sunset.
- Humans Are Bastards: Particularly invoked in the scene with the sea turtle.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: Oh, man ... the poor giraffe in the opening scene.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you know the story is based on a real life newspaper article, then you most likely know how it ends.
- Pet the Dog: Safa is nice to Ali, the lion cub. She also rescues him from the monkeys.
- Scenery Porn: Niko Henrichon can draw.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: If you take a cynical interpretation to the ending.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Played with, especially since the story makes use of clashing ideals among the lions.
- Time Abyss: The sea turtle, being old enough to remember the first Gulf War is this to the lions due to their shorter lifespans.
- 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.
- Your Head A-Splode: The Giraffe, in one of the most defining Mood Whiplash moments in the graphic novel.