Tragically Evil

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One of my favorite magazines to read is GQ magazines. Normally I read the magazine to hear what they have to say about products that are far out of my price range, and sometimes I even read some of the articles. In the latest issue though I came across something that I’m not used to seeing in GQ and that was a comic that was titled “For God and Country”. As I started reading I was utterly shocked by what it was about. “For God and Country” was an illustrated telling of the last minutes of Osama Bin Laden’s life. The story was written by Matt Fraction who is currently known for his work in Iron Man, and it was illustrated by Nathan Fox. I was intrigued by Fraction’s depiction of Osama, because when you read the comic Osama reads like a tragic character.

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“For God and Country” is written in two parts. The top half of each page has captions written from Osama’s point of view, while the bottom half is written from the point of view of the collective thoughts of Seal Team Six. When reading the top portion, Osama reads like a man who knew he was about to die and it is almost as if he had been waiting on it. We see a terrified and scared man as the soldiers climb the stairs after shooting down his son, Khalid bin Laden. We see sweat on his face as he looks at the SEALs coming up the stairs for him, and panic is written all over him. This is not the evil dictator that I had expected to look boldly into the face of death, and I begin to wonder: was it really like that?

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When it comes to Osama Bin Laden the man probably knew from the moment he decided to give the order that resulted in 9/11 that the Americans would hunt him down and slaughter him. From the very beginning Osama knew he was going to die and for ten years he was on the run while his resources slowly slipped through his fingers. Ten years is a long time and during that time it can make a person think. We may never know if Osama proudly looked into the face of death that waited in the black abyss at the back of those gun barrels or if he trembled in fear while questioning if he truly did the right thing those ten years prior to that moment. Was death a release for the man though? Is it right to depict the man in a tragic way at all?

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Reading this comic brought up memories of College Literature courses. In John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” Satan is depicted as an anti-hero who led a group of angels in rebellion against God because he was unwilling to be a servant. He claimed that Angels were self-formed, denied God as the creator of the Angels, rebuked his authority over them, and claimed that all Angels should rule over heaven as gods. Lucifer had once been known as one of the most beautiful angels in heaven, but due to his rebellion he was banished to Tartarus after suffering a staggering defeat at the hand of Jesus Christ. The prose of the poem is written in a way that depicts Satan as a tragic hero, and he is depicted in such a way that is meant to invoke sympathy.

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The Joker is another very infamous character takes the tragic character stance. After reading Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” and reading his version of the Joker’s origin story we see a man who has given up his job to pursue his dream of being a comedian. His dream fails and he has to resort to a scheme requiring him to rob his old workplace in order to provide for his family. His family dies in a freak accident and the crime goes all wrong due to Gotham PD and Batman showing up. Then one misstep resorts in the birth of the “Clown Prince of Crime” who came to be responsible for filling graveyards. The Joker did not deserve to become the Joker, but things just so happened to play out where everything would fall apart.

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While reading the notes written by Fraction and Fox it appears as if the creative team did not want to portray Osama as a tragic character. If you disregard everything you know about Osama Bin Laden it reads like a tired old man who has lost everything and waited for years to die, and he is now facing his impending death at the hands of an execution squad all because of something he believed in. The same thing happened to Satan in Paradise Lost and with the Joker in The Killing Joke. All characters believed in something and they believed what they were doing was the right thing, but in the end what they believed in only brought them tragedy.

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I honestly believe myself that Osama Bin Laden was a monster. When I think of Osama, I cannot see an old man that is afraid to die, but this comic “For God and Country” made me think a little. September 11, 2011 will always be a day that will live in infamy not just to those who live in the states, but to people all across the world. There were some that cheered when the towers fell, and some say that the United States got what they deserved, but regardless of what anyone says thousands of people lost their lives that day for no reason other than a few men who wanted to carry out a simple act of hatred. Knowing that Osama Bin Laden could willingly send hundreds to their deaths, and condemn thousands more to die, it is hard to imagine that such a man could be human on any level, but despite this Osama Bin Laden to some people was a hero that met a tragic end.

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To read the comic click here: http://www.gq.com/news-politics/newsmakers/201112/osama-bin-laden-death-comic

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