Running for 72 issues from 2005 to 2012, and is part of the famous range of Vertigo titles produced during the high point of output from that house.
DMZ tells the story of a modern civil war in America between the Free States of America and the United States of America. The DMZ of the title refers to the demilitarised zone of Manhattan Island which neither side has claimed but has become a constant battle ground where 400000 inhabitants caught in the fighting. The story is worryingly plausible given the current political climate.
The story opens with photography intern Matt Roth on his first day being sent out with embedded reporters; his transport is shot down though and he is stranded in the war-torn district with only his press badge and camera.
The book is written in a hyper realistic style – you’ll find no superheroics or sci-fi here – documenting what it would really be like for people in this situation. As the main character is a photojournalist, many issues take the form of a book of photographs with the story being told through annotated notes. Other important characters include Zee the Medical Student-come-battlefield medic, and Random Fire a club DJ in what remains of the cultural scene in the ruined city.
The greatness of Brian Wood’s writing comes from the focus not on either side of the war (with both being portrayed as “right” and “wrong” in the conflict), nor exploring who the war came about (its been raging for years by the start of the tale and is of little concern to the people living in the DMZ), but his highlighting of the day-to-day struggle for life in a warzone and the attempts at art & culture to thrive in chaos. Burcheilli is rightly lauded for his stunning pencil work throughout invoking the real starkness of life and death but also capturing the human warmth when it’s possible for these characters to find some.
The book has long been out of print though recently returned as a series of 5 deluxe collections however we have been able to find pristine copies of issues #1-5 which cover the first full story arc and two standalone stories. This bundle is available in the shop today and will make an excellent Christmas present for the comic reader in your family.