I bought two Vertigo books last week and read them both: Clean Room by Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt and Sheriff of Babylon by Tom King and Mitch Gerads. On the face of things, they are completely different, but underneath, they are surprisingly similar: both deal with the complicated workings of people, their secrets, and more. (Trigger warning: gory and violent images ahead.)

Clean Room is the story of Astrid Mueller, who was run over by a crazy man as a child. She has used her miraculous recovery as the basis for her new book, An Honest World: Unlocking the Explosive Potential Inside, and she has turned into a cross between a self-help guru and the head of a Scientology-like organization, which helps many people (including many celebrities).

The only problem is that journalist Chloe Pierce’s fiance also read her book and joined her organization...and then blew his brains out. And now Chloe wants to know why and will do anything to get to the truth. A truth that she probably won’t like. A truth that might just reveal things hidden in the dark.

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Oh yes, this is a horror comic alright:

The Sheriff of Babylon takes place in post-invasion Iraq, in the Green Zone, and has three main characters:

Christopher Henry, a former cop who volunteered to go over to Iraq and train the new police force; Saffiya al Agani, daughter of one of the men Saddam executed and one of those who had pushed for the US to invade and is now trying to rebuild Iraq; and Nassir, the last remaining cop from the Saddam regime whose three daughters were accidentally killed by an American bomb.

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When one of the men that Christopher is training is executed, Christopher pulls in both Saffiya and Nassir to try and find the culprit...but quickly finds that things are infinitely more complicated in Iraq.

Tom King, writer of Batman and The Vision, used to work in CIA counter-terrorism post-9/11 and worked in Iraq, so this entire series comes across as both insanely detailed and incredibly well-written:

I completely and utterly recommend both books. Clean Room is incredibly creepy, making the tension incredibly tight, and the art is gorgeous (as are the covers by Jenny Frison). The Sheriff of Babylon, on the other hand, is incredibly realistic, giving three completely different characters their own different perspectives on post-invasion Iraq — and Tom King knows how to make even the most brutal murderer into someone sympathetic and the most quiet scene into a minefield.

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Clean Room Vol 1: Immaculate Conception and The Sheriff of Babylon Vol 1: Bang. Bang. Bang. are both out now.