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DMZ #20

Posted: Monday, June 18, 2007
By: Martijn Form



Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Kristian Donaldson

Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo


Plot: Part 3 of the 5 part "Friendly Fire" story arc, where Matty is trying to investigate the so called "Day 204 Massacre."

Comments: "Friendly Fire," itís called. What is so friendly about being killed by bullets from your own people?

Matty wants to know if the Day 204 massacre was provoked or just a freak accident which seems to be a part of war.

Marvel dared to call their major 2006/2007 comic event Civil War, but it was more about being civil than actual war. Marvel got the opportunity, but Vertigo's got the balls. Marvelís Civil War didnít have the guts to show us readers what DMZ is all about. DMZ lives and breathes civil war, and there is nothing civil about it. Itís brutal, itís unfair and, it rips up so many peopleís lives. In DMZ America is torn to pieces, and everybody wants a slice of the ruined pie. You have got the U.S. Government on one side, and the Free States on the other. In the middle are all kinds of gangs and organisations who all say they fight for the right cause. But what is the right cause when you are dealing with a civil war? Look at the Iraqis or the Palestinians. Their matters are so complicated that it seems impossible to determine who is right and who is wrong.

Brian Wood doesnít feel the need to avoid asking these hard questions in his excellent DMZ series. Every decision the characters have to make is difficult, one that can change their lives for ever, for better or worse. I admire how brutal Woodís writing makes this book, and there doesnít have to be a lot of blood or violence shown in the art work to get a lump in your throat.

"The bullets that struck me in the head had already passed through the bodies of my friends and slowed considerably. This is why I survived."

This is what a survivor of the massacre confesses to Matty. Just take a moment and let that line soak into your brain.

To me itís overwhelming. The art shows that she is scared for life, but she lives and her friends do not. And when this woman, this peace protester, says, "The people who did thisÖdonít you think they should die?," then we get a little sense of what war does to people.

Matty has become a heart-warming journalist instead of a clumsy intern. He asks a lot of questions about Day 204 but isnít getting the answers that will give him peace of mind. This issue is almost all talking heads, but the emotion and drama these people share is chattering. However deep our war correspondent Matty will dig and stares in the abyss, the abyss always stares back.

You probably know the artist Kristian Donaldson from the comic Supermarket or perhaps you noticed his name in an earlier issue of DMZ. He handles the talking heads with a great enthusiastic style. The flow of the panels, through an impressive variety of angles, sucks you deep into the dialogue of the characters. Donaldsonís art not only presents some strong characterization, his surroundings and background are highly detailed, which makes New York a profound character of its own. Just look at all the realistic looking graffiti on the walls; it makes this city a living entity and not a static war zone.

Y: The Last Man is in its final issues, but luckily we still have DMZ.

For more information about this reviewer, go to www.martijnform.com



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