“The Island” (part 1)
Following right after the high paced, intense action of the “Blood in the Game” arc, creator and writer Brian Wood understands the need to allow readers to catch their breath and move the big story forward. Enter the two issue arc entitled “The Island." But don’t let the short arc fool you, Wood brings along supermarket cohort Kristian Donaldson to lay the ground work for some interesting perspectives for the series.
Most of the action has taken place downtown in the DMZ heartland but in this arc, Wood focuses on an area slightly outside the true DMZ, in the Staten Island area. Matty Roth is the hot, always daring journalist looking for a story. But what Matty doesn’t realize is that some stories might best be held onto. And that is exactly what Matty faces when he gets to Staten Island and sees what is going on. There is an uneasy truce between the United States of America Army and the Free States Army. They are all Americans and Staten Island is essential a frat party with guns. Wood does a great job at selling the party atmosphere that can mimic the college days when people from different backgrounds, race, nationality and location can come together and put the worries aside for moments of fun.
This issue touches on some great topics such as; who is really watching who?; the uneasy trust of knowing that at any moment a rogue thought could turn the situation into a clustef&@#; or how long could this situation last? Wood does a great job at addressing these issues in a series of interactions with several people throughout the story to break away from a monotone-type approach. One of the key meetings is a quick but critical exchange with a Free States solider who gives Matty a message that is essentially a message for the newly elected Parco. One can start to wonder if Matty is viewed as a journalist or now a de facto press secretary for Parco. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out. The story ends with a twist that will possibly shakeup one of the questions addressed above. Wood has a great sense of when to interject a catalyst into the situation at the right moment. But setting up all the pieces first is the key trick. The biggest question is whether or not people will continue to support a book that lacks in action, which this issue was short on. Longtime fans of DMZ will not be shocked with that approach, as Wood has approached that before, but new or casual readers could be thrown off.
Donaldson’s skill in this story is his ability to visually translate those simple moments into meaningful ones. And that is not a slight against his artwork. This issue was not about action, but rather setting up all those pieces as mentioned. Each individual needed to have their own personality, motivation for the situation and set within the right context of the war. His work did have to bring that sense of people trying extremely hard to push the crappy situation out of their minds, even if for one hour, day or night. I’m interested to see if Wood will allow him to push that talent with more action scenes next issue. So for those fans that have been along for the ride so far with DMZ, you’ll be able to get a much needed intermission from the intense action from the last arc. For those new or wondering what DMZ is about, this issue won’t give you a background on most of the characters of DMZ but it can give you a nice introduction to how Wood can play around with different perspectives of the characters in the book.
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