Sheriff of Babylon #5 Review

Written by: Tom King

Art by: Mitch Gerads

Publisher: Vertigo

Tom King is currently the man to watch in comics. Between fantastic runs on The Vision at Marvel and The Omega Men at DC, not to mention is upcoming Batman run, King is fast becoming a rising star. If you aren’t aware however, King and collaborator Mitch Gerads have been working on a creator owned series over at Vertigo, Sheriff of Babylon. Set 10 months after the fall of Baghdad, the books follows three different people of different social positions who become connected through a series of grisly, suspicious murders. While the series has so far been excellent and definitely worth reading, issue 5 marks itself specially as a perfect comic.

The whole issue centers around an extended conversation between Chris, an American stationed in the country, and Fatima, a Muslim woman who has lived through Saddam’s reign. The two share a drink and discuss the events that have lead their respective countries to this point. The issue is entirely gripping despite being just one conversation, mostly because of King’s perfect handling of dialogue. Chris and Nassir are incredibly believable characters making their conversation a joy to read. There’s a lot of genuine wit mixed in with thorny political issues to create a fascinating conversation that fully sucks you in and makes you think. Sheriff of Babylon is at it’s best when it’s addressing hard issues and using beautifully metaphorical language, which this issue has in spades.

Even better is the work of Mitch Gerads. His art has been fantastic thus far, with a great ability to render emotion as well as motion, creating the sense of a tightly shot TV show in every pannel. This issue, despite the smaller and more intimate feel, actually features some of his biggest scale work. As the two leads sit in one of Saddam’s gutted palaces, there’s a huge sense of desolation and decay. It feels like it has a grand scope, reminding us of how small the characters actually are. The characters themselves feel incredibly human, with Gerads managing to make their conversation as interesting to look at as it is to read. There are several great artistic choices and “shots” (for lack of a better word) in this issue which is great to see. Despite it being a quieter issue, Gerads doesn’t slouch for a second, instead delivering some of the best work of the whole series.

Sheriff of Babylon #5 is an incredibly smart comic that will make you think and draw you in with some of the most believable characters ever put to the page. It’s currently one of the most gripping comics on the stand and with this issue has managed to achieve perfection. If you’re not reading this then you’re missing out. Sheriff of Babylon is the sort of comic that expands your horizons and challenges you with cleverly written and expertly drawn content, it showcases exactly why comics are important as an art form and, in my mind, is the perfect comic.