Go Here For The Story
Yesterday gave comics a surprising boost of notoriety when GQ published a comic strip version of Bin Laden's final moments. The comic was written by Matt Fraction, one of my favorite comic writers, while the art is by comic artist Nathan Fox. The two previously collaborated on Invincible Iron Man 500, where Fox illustrated the parts of Fraction's dystopian future where we saw Tony's son turned into a literal War Machine, under the control of the Mandarin.
This story is an extremely intense piece of comic storytelling, and effectively chronicles the Seals' raid on Bin Laden's final hiding place. What's most interesting about it isn't the portrayal of the Seals, but of Bin Laden himself. Here, the mastermind behind Al Qaeda is almost a sympathetic figure. He's the most infamous mass-murderer of the current century, his organization responsible for the deaths of thousands including both American and European citizens as well as his "fellow" Muslims. But in his final moments, he's just a sick, scared old man who's been hiding in the dark for years, thinking in clipped, frantic captions as he awaits the inevitable.
In the annotations, Fraction denies that he wanted to get into Bin Laden's head, for obvious reasons; what person, of any respectable political affiliation, would try to excuse this monster's actions? But Fraction isn't excusing anything Bin Laden did. If anything, he and Nathan Fox are using their chosen medium to make Bin Laden the concept see the errors of his ways. In the end, Bin Laden only brought misery to the world, and that includes his own kin. The look Fox put on Osama's face as one of his grown sons runs out to protect him and ends up dead says a lot; is Osama simply scared, or is there a hint of remorse for the fact that his child died for his own sins?
Some may interpret this as propaganda for the US, but it's really a great piece of storytelling that combats the ideals for which Bin Laden caused so many deaths. Bin Laden may have wanted to be a martyr who inspired an even greater wave of suicide bombings. But if Fraction and Fox's comic is his legacy, then everything Bin Laden did just led him to an undignified, pathetic end.