Brian Wood is an American comic book writer best known for his long running Vertigo series DMZ. He has also written a few other notable series, Local and Demo – both coming of age stories, which in a way DMZ also falls into the category of. I’m going to blog a little about DMZ, since it’s one of the most sincere and brilliant pieces of modern comic book writing out there.
DMZ is an extended metaphor for American supremacy, politically anarchic and emotionally devastating, it’s the best damn TV show you’ve never seen and it’s fifty-five issues in – where have you been? DMZ tells the story of a near-future America where a new Civil War has been brewing between the Free States and the rest of the USA. With New York City as the no-man’s land, Manhattan and the surrounding neighbourhoods become a demilitarised zone, a third world country where gangs and private military corporations run amok and where no journalist would dare set foot. Until Matty Roth comes along. A rich kid intern working with a top broadcaster for Liberty News (the future version of Fox), Matty heads over to New York (or the DMZ, of the title) with this journalist to cover the ‘real story’ of the people there, but quickly becomes seperated after a terrorist attack on their helicopter and is left to fend for himself.
The set-up allows Wood to tell modern stories about the state of the nation through a futuristic setting. He brings coporate controlled mercenary bodies into the fold, gives us suicide bombers being trained and coached, ganglords taking control of neighbourhoods and using the war to their advantage. He tells folk tales of soldiers hiding out in the winter. These are the kinds of stories war brings, but through DMZ Wood tells them in the middle of New York.
The latest volume in the series, Hearts and Minds focusses on being a nuclear power, and the conflict that arises from this.
Brian Wood is doing amazing things with this series, and you should check out the first eight volumes, as well as Demo and Local.