The Sheriff of Babylon by Tom King

Title: The Sheriff of Babylon
Stand-Alone: Yes
Writer(s): Tom King
Illustrator(s): Mitch Gerads
Publisher: Vertigo
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition
Release Date: March 20th 2018
Pages: 304
Genre(s): Comics, Thriller
ISBN13: 9781401277918
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★


Way before Tom King got on board to write Batman for the Rebirth era of DC Comics, he was an ex-CIA operations officer in Iraq and racked up a couple of months of experience that he later translated into a phenomenal wartime crime thriller known as The Sheriff of Babylon. It was when Vertigo came in contact with him to write a series for them that the idea of drawing upon his time in Baghdad came to mind. What he ultimately conjured thanks to the help of artist Mitch Gerads is a 12 part story that reveals the twisted and dark post-invasion Iraq climate. Through impeccable characterization and stellar artwork, The Sheriff of Babylon envelops the reader into a depressing and complex reality that lingers on the edge of insanity and chaos.

Set in the year 2003, right after Saddam Hussein’s reign reached its end, this story follows military contractor Christopher Henry into the heart of the post-9/11 Middle East. When one of his trainees is found dead, he is forced into seeking help from the last policeman in Baghdad. His journey into finding the culprit behind that gruesome death brings him to traverse some of the loneliest and most bleak corners of the world. Added with the point of view of Sofia, an Iraqi-American woman who plays a dangerous game within various circles, The Sheriff of Babylon throws the readers into a whirlwind of violence, and softens it all with a poignant emotional cushion to fall back on.


This is an exquisite masterpiece by one of the greatest creative teams out there. With Tom King’s impeccable story-telling and Mitch Gerads unbelievable and realistic artwork, they were able to convey some of the most brutal and tragic moments through the comic book medium. Panels would constantly focus on the weight of each word and accentuate the intensity through the facial expressions and the cruelty of the events that unfolded. In all honesty, flipping through this volume was one of the most intensive experience ever. There are moments that effortlessly grabs you by the throat and forbids you the freedom to breath with ease. The intensity is never toned down and everything unravels in unimaginable ways. In fact, the artwork coupled with the dialogue controls the pace and assures to leave you feeling powerless and staggered more often than not. Tom King and Mitch Gerads portrayal of this time period was simply flawless.

The story isn’t told in a linear fashion and tends to highlight its complexity in many ways. Following the story through the eyes of three different characters helps extensively in accomplishing just that. With different backgrounds and different goals for each of these characters, the story easily puts everything into perspective and helps readers understand the reality that everyone is facing. In a world where everyone seem shook to their core by the war in which they bathe, it is the methods they all embrace to cope with it that truly sends a punch right to the gut. Whether it’s laughter or sadness, Tom King really knew how to develop it and make it feel authentic. He does a phenomenal job in portraying the complexity of the decisions that need to be made as well as putting emphasis on the grey area of every behaviour. In this world, anything could turn the kindest soul into the savagest demon.

The Sheriff of Babylon focuses on the intangible web that hides underneath Baghdad as the Americans attempt to control it fruitlessly. Without ever shying away from graphic content and continuously hammering readers with memorable and powerful scenes, this graphic novel packs a hell of a punch and demonstrates the complicated nature of human beings.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!



35 thoughts on “The Sheriff of Babylon by Tom King

  1. Whoa…a 5 star rating, and a stellar review with incredibly high praise from you? Now this I have to check out. It really sounds incredible. It’s not a graphic novel I would usually choose if I would go shopping, but I am always open to check out new things. Fantastic review you wrote here! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Everything I end up giving a 5 star rating is something that I would always vouch for. This one was really powerful in its delivery and execution. I do love picking up these graphic novels (especially those from Vertigo Comics, since they’re always top-notch). Hope you get to try it out some day, Michel. Thank you so much for reading! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds really good. And pretty intense.

    And I like the new layout for the blog posts. It feels a lot more open and less squashed (to use such technical terms) than the previous way it was. Do you think things will stay this way, or is “experimenting” going on?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, it is. I loved how authentic it felt and how emotionally-charged it was. Truly a great graphic novel.

      Thanks man, I appreciate the input on the new layout. As she might have already told you, she was the one who tested out a bunch of different themes to filter it down to this one. I totally agree with you on its “squashiness”. So much breathing room, so much more clean.

      I think it’s going to stay this way for a while since she didn’t see any other “better” themes possible for Bookidote. Unless WordPress suddenly unleashes a new batch of themes for premium users, I don’t think we’ll be changing anything soon. We will probably be going through an “adaptation” phase with our own posts and the way they are done though (like my new format with 3 headers, the quote, etc.), but otherwise, this is the “new us”. 😀 Feel free to always share your thoughts on any of my adjustments.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Icky! 😀 I appreciate the kind words on the new format too. It would be pretty epic to get quoted on a big publisher’s book some day, but I’m in no hurry. It’ll happen if it wants to happen. 😉 Happy reading to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review Lashaan, and wow this sounds like an incredible read. 🙂 I think it’s great how Tom King has used his experience in Iraq to create this story, and it seems like that experience pays off because based on your review he’s created something exceptional in The Sheriff of Babylon. The pages you’ve shown in the slideshow certainly look amazing. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Beth! It is indeed incredible. I just really love how he transformed his experience into a story like this without making it feel like fiction at all. As violent as it might be, what we got from The Sheriff of Babylon is a mesmerizing representation of that post 9/11 era. Amazing stuff. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome stuff Lashaan and I’m so glad you’ve covered this because I had no idea it existed! As you’re aware I’m a big fan of Tom King’s work on Batman and I only recently found out that he was an ex-CIA operative. This sounds like a great a read (the subject matter is definitely of interest to me) and your enthusiasm for it only makes it more essential – I’m going to pick this up very soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Chris. I am glad to redirect you towards this masterpiece in that case. I knew about his ex-CIA stuff back when he did his Grayson run and was truly fascinated by that fact since it was pretty close to my own field of stuff/career. I’ve always been intrigued by The Sheriff of Babylon (especially since it’s a Vertigo series) and am extremely glad to finally got around to reading it. It was so impressive and a truly enlightenment of this creative team’s ability. I’m also excited to check out Mister Miracle (with Tom King and Mitch Gerads again) to see what the buzz around it is about too. I hope your time with The Sheriff of Babylon will be worthwhile, my friend! 😀


      1. Waiting for that collected edition as well. Sweet! Hope you enjoy it man. By the way, did you hear about Batman: Damned and the launch of DC’s Black Label imprint? Definitely psyched about Azzarello and Bermejo being back together for a new project!


  5. Wonderful review! I need to get back into GNs ASAP. And thank you for updating the blog layout haha. My nystagmus was going crazy with the last one. It looked good, but my eyes literally shook from trying to decide which side of the screen to look at. For some reason (blame the brain lesion) I wasn’t able to maintain focus, so I was cheating and just viewing your site on mobile ❤ This is nice!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Danielle! And yes you do. 😉 Oh my hahahah You should’ve said so way earlier! It’s always nice to know how certain themes were perceived and all. I’m glad to hear the new design is much more easy to scroll through then. Trang went through all the possibilities and found that this one after a nice long late-night scrolling. 😉 I also love how spacious it feels. Thanks again for the feedback on it all! 😉


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