Ryan's Reviews > DMZ, Vol. 1: On the Ground

DMZ, Vol. 1 by Brian Wood
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M 50x66
's review
Jun 28, 2010

really liked it
Read in June, 2010

The story: America's Second Civil War, between the "official" USA government and an uprising of militia groups and other insurgents organized into an army of Free States. The island of Manhattan has become a demilitarized zone, a war-torn area neither side can hold and that has been turned into an American Afghanistan, Somalia, or Gaza Strip -- those that live there fend for themselves against each other and against the two sides that treat it roughly as a no-man's land. A journalism student, interning with a world-famous reporter, finds himself trapped on the island and begins his own reporting, showing the realities of life in wartime that the media glosses over.

Like a lot of Brian Wood's work that I've read, DMZ is highly political, although the sympathies of this work are harder to place than, say, Channel Zero -- it seems to be a more generalized statement against corporate government and media. The focus is the human drama and the moral complexities of life in wartime, aiming to give us a picture of the tragedies and failings all people face rather than an easily identifiable hero or villain. Also like the little bit of Wood's work that I have read, the narrative can feel a bit discontinuous, seeming to jump large swaths of time and gloss over details that may help the reader understand the connections between events and characters. The visual storytelling -- art by Wood and Riccardo Burchielli -- can be similarly choppy and sometimes over-stylized, making action difficult to discern at times. Still, an intriguing premise and worth checking out. I find myself interested in larger narrative issues and the history of the conflict, which I fear may be only hinted at and never addressed in any major way in the remainder of the series. While Wood's work thus doesn't quite match up to the level of some of his Vertigo compatriots like Brian Azzarello, Mike Carey, or Brian Vaughan, it is still an involving story and especially suited for those wanting something different and probably more advanced/mature than mainstream superhero fare.

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