Truth be told, while there are a number of comics I certainly enjoy, it’s not often I can say that a comic is truly great*. Thankfully, Brian Wood’s DMZ (Vertigo) is one of the first books I’ve read in ages that constitutes great work. Set in an alternate future where an American army, so overburdened by multiple foreign wars, is unable to quell a civil uprising on US soil until Manhattan is actually occupied by a homebrew army, DMZ tells the story of those people who’s existence is buffeted by the US and Free States Armies while trying to make their life work in the semi-abandoned ruins of Manhattan, all through the eyes of Matty Roth, the sole reporter on the ground.
Like all great sci-fi and speculative fiction, DMZ posits a seemingly far-fetched scenario to tell us something about the world we’re living in right now. The parallels to the Iraq war are readily apparent (multiple factions vying for control, corrupt contractors, soldiers thrown to the wolves for the sins of their superior officers), and Wood (along with Riccardo Burchielli and a bevy of exceptionally talented artists) nails the life of those who’ve lived with conflict so long that it’s become their normal existence. The detail and depth that Wood has given this New York under siege is breathtaking (indeed the single issue dedicated to the various neighborhoods, restaurants, and communities seems far too slim to contain them), and everything comes together to punch the story right smack into the middle of your brain.
While we’re at it, I heartily recommend checking out Brian Wood’s website, as he’s taking the idea of a creator interacting with his audience seriously by utilizing Ning’s custom social network tool. Wood isn’t content to simply write blog posts on high for fans to read, he’s actively pursuing avenues that allow for real conversations between artists and audience. Cool stuff, indeed.