The first volume of this series represents what I thought was the best work from Tom King over the course of a very prolific and successful 2016 for him. It was a look at the incredibly screwed-up state of post-invasion Iraq through the perspective of three characters: Chris, a cop turned military consultant tasked with training the new Iraqi police force, Nasir, a former Baghdad cop with close ties to Saddam’s old regime, and Sofia, a politician who is helping to facilitate the transfer of power through means both legal and not. What brings them together is the investigation of the death of one of Chris’ trainees and how it ties into the ambitious plans of local warlord Abu Rahim.
If that sounds bad, then the actual details are worse as this volume picks up in the aftermath of the death of Nasir’s wife after his attempted pickup by CIA agent Bob and his team went bad in short order. Now Nasir is being interrogated to find out what he knows while Sofia makes her own negotiations to save him and track down Abu Rahim in the process. As for Chris? He’s ready to help Nasir (his friend) and Sofia (his lover) do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this mess. Even if it means helping to mete out something resembling justice once all the dust has cleared.
It’s a credit to the reality that King and artist Mitch Gerads have created here that they can take the execution of a minor character introduced in this volume and make it seem like a rational response to the events of this story. The tragedy here is that while everyone involved understands the world they’re living in they’re either unable or unwilling to change it. Naturally, this doesn’t make for the most uplifting read. It won’t ruin your day, however, as the story being told delivers enough tension and unfolds in way surprising enough to keep you engaged no matter how horrible things become for its characters.