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DMZ (TPB #1) – On the Ground

August 27, 2008

DMZ or Demilitarized Zone is a comic book created by Brian Wood and published under DC’s Vertigo imprint. The trade paperback On the Ground reprints the first five issues and starts off the story of Matthew Roth, a small time journalist, who is stranded in Manhattan during times of war. The story takes place in the near future and a civil war has split up the US nation into two factions, the United States of America on the one side and the Free States on the other. Largely underestimated militias have attacked the country from within and left the former great nation in shambles. Manhattan has meanwhile turned into a neutral zone lying on the border of the two new states. After a first negotiated ceasefire agreement, the island is left alone and so the Liberty News Network sends over their most acclaimed journalist together with the photography intern Matty Roth in order to make a documentary on the situation in the DMZ. Shortly after their arrival on the island however, the news team is attacked and killed leaving Matty as a sole survivor in the hostile environment. During his attempt to stay alive, the self-proclaimed reporter meets Zee Hernandez, a former med student, who tries to tend to the victims of the many attacks on the island. Matty learns quickly that nothing in Manhattan is as the news reports have shown and he decides to make his own documentary in order to show the whole world what is really going on in the desolate former metropolis.

Brian Wood introduces some very interesting ideas in his newly created comic series DMZ. The notion, that the US is destroyed by a civil war is not so far fetched, considering the many questionable choices their government has made in recent years and Wood manages to portray the situation in Manhattan in such detail, that the story really comes to life. Small details, like the fact that Ground Zero is off limits for both enemy nations, or that a treaty is in place to protect the old landmark buildings, are, what makes DMZ so special. Plus the art by Riccardo Burchielli, who has his debut in the US with this work, is really stunning and extremely detailed. Although the story takes place in the future it is very believable and reads almost like a real war journal. I would absolutely recommend this first paperback collection to everybody, who has not yet read this fascinating story. And for only 10$ it is a bargain too.

Story 9

Art 9

Reread Value 8

Overall Rating 9/10

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