30 March 2008

Abrupt Endings

Pride of Baghdad
Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon

LOL spoilers

Some people in class have complained about the ending of Pride of Baghdad. It's really abrupt, and a lot of people didn't like that--they wanted more after the lions were shot, or more about their lives before the zoo bombing.

I think that might've been interesting, but I have to say that I like the ending as is. It's startling and freaky and moderately heart-wrenching, but I think that was the point. It's a comic about war. Note the phrasing--it's not a "war comic." I've always thought of those as being more about heroic soldiers and adventures. Pride of Baghdad is a comic about war, about what it is and what is does and how people are affected. And it's important to note that, like the ending of this book, war itself is frequently startling and freaky and heart-wrenching.

If there was more of the story, it feels like it would take away from the impact of the ending. More on the beginning wouldn't really be interesting. Yeah, it's about lions, but zoo lions lead fairly boring lives. Not so much goes on with an animal who lives at a zoo. More after the end, on the other hand, would risk A.I. syndrome. You know what that is. It's that thing that some books and movies and television shows do when they have a perfect ending and then continue to drag on for another fifteen minutes or three seasons or whatever.

Pride of Baghdad is a good example of Thomas Hobbes' comment on life during wartime: "No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" (Leviathan Pt. 1, Ch. 13). It may not be a comic about humanity, but that's pretty much what's going on here. An abrupt ending is appropriate to that. It's upsetting, and that's the point.

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