DMZ vol. 1-3: On the Ground, Body of a Journalist, & Public Works - Brian Wood

Will someone please, PLEASE! explain to me why this comic is so acclaimed. I read the first trade years ago when I got it at a signing and part of the following is my early review of it, but I borrowed a bunch from Kym in order to give it a retry. I couldn't make it past vol. 3. I have no trouble with suspension of disbelief; I need to make that clear before I explain why I didn’t like this graphic novel. I know Wood is trying to help Americans get a feel of what it would be like to be in a war zone without making it too abstract by placing the story in, say, a place that has a war zone. And I know that Wood, writing fiction, is going to invoke some artistic license. But the end result is too sloppy for me to appreciate. DMZ is about a photojournalist intern, Matthew Roth, who gets suck in the de-militarized zone that is Manhattan, New York City, during our country’s second civil war. So the USA is at war with itself, OK, fine, but Wood should be aware that a DMZ is usually a place where fighting came to a standstill due to intense resistance on both sides, in other words, a place of severe destruction. Thus, if you want to keep Manhattan as intact as it is here, it should not be the DMZ, especially considering the firepower invoked in this comic. Wood, perhaps you haven’t opened you eyes when you’ve been in my city, but the buildings are densely packed and a few fires caused, say, by the dropping of “daisy cutter” ordinance, without a fully functioning fire department would be unstoppable. Also, check out the Central Park Zoo, as it is as beautiful as devoid of pandas. And why is it that whenever society collapses everyone dresses all punk? PS Manhattan has a population of about a million (twice that during the work day) and I doubt only half would leave/get killed when they were the front line. Wood's explanation of the evacuation being cut short is useless as the means of taking a boat or simply walking away all seem possible. I guess I’m simply asking for the comic—which tries to be politically and socially relevant and adult oriented—to spend a little time making the concept work.

If all this sounds too nit-picky, well, chalk it up to my spending too much time during the Yugoslavian civil war as well as the numerous conflicts the U.S. is engaged in, imagining what life would be like if such a situation happened here. Obviously, Wood hasn't and neither have all the reviews praising him or they would have asked a few questions. For example: why is everyone in their twenties? You really don't have any kids other than a couple of rare background props. How about old people or families? Wilson hardly counts, he's just another punk rocker (all characters seem to be) slash computer whiz (you know, like all old folks) and his family is a bunch of ninja clones (well, they are Asians, so I guess Wood feels they have to be) who are related to him only because they call him "grandfather". What about characters? Do we have anything beyond the superficial? Let me give you a breakdown of the main ones: Matty is a hipster who is mad at his dad for providing him with everything. Zee is a punk med student that spends most of her time eating in trendy places and (off "camera") bleaching her hair (since in a war zone it is your look that is most important). Jamal is three things only: NYU student, architect student, and black. Those are most of the characters right there. Sure, there are some others, like the Islamic terrorists that keep trying to blow up America, even though America is only a sliver of the current country (although it amazingly has all the military resources we have now, only they can't seem to get them to do anything except blow things up in prep for an invasion that never happens) and they can hardly do anything worse then what is currently happening, there are the standard double crosser who work for one side or another, but they are all interchangeable, there is Amina, the perfect looking (perhaps underage) would be suicide bomber (no, we are given no reason as to why, we only know that she seems a bit slutty (Matty might be a statutory rapist) but who becomes homeless instead of the kept woman of some important personality (you always seem former models living on the street, right?)).

Anyway, I could go on and on about how this series is nothing more than a pitched idea that never was developed into anything that works, except I'm obviously all alone here as everyone and their second cousin thinks it gives the reader so much to think about. News flash, the only thing this comic is good for is that it is a reminder for why other people in DMZs hate us: It is because we are so incapable of having a clue as to what those people go through. Thanks you, Wood, for making us even more out of touch.