So DMZ is done. The Five Nations of New York closes out the story of Matty Roth and the civil war that defined his life. It’s interesting when a story like this ends, because it’s the story of how Matty stopped being an entitled journalism punk who picked up a gun and got into politics, but it’s a story of how he tells a story, and how he fucks up telling the story.
By the end of this book he’s taking the blame for things he didn’t legally need to, and [SPOILER ALERT] goes to jail for life. Which isn’t an altogether unhappy ending. I mean, I can see how it’s not. Because what is Matty going to do now that the war is over? The character we got to know through these 12 volumes can’t really exist outside the DMZ, and parlay his six years into punditry and all the rest. Anything he’d become would be so different from who we know. Prison gets to seal Matty Roth in lucite, having learned something about life, having his only opinion that matters, and then he’s gone from the stage. This isn’t the model for a life, but it’s a good way to seal off a story.
As far as long-form comics go, DMZ ranks right up there with Transmetropolitan for me, but then I would love science fiction journalism comics, wouldn’t I?.
DMZ is almost done. In trade paperback form. I think the final floppy has already arrived, but I read them on delay. Free States Rising is the 11th trade paperback and it fills in a bit of background with a two-issue prequel about the Free States and moves Matty Roth forward on his redemptive path (after being a total asshole a few volumes previously). Loose ends are being tied up, along with the war.
I don’t have any real criticism of the book at this point. If you haven’t tried it yet and you like stories about journalism and about a sense of place, you really really should read DMZ. I give individual volumes 4-star ratings but taken as a whole it’s in my top-5 comics ever. (And yes, the post when I’m done volume 12 will probably be very similar to this. Sorry.)
This is the volume where Matty Roth deals with the aftermath of getting involved in politics and where he makes the decision to get back to what he originally went into NYC to do: journalism. I’m not feeling bad for all of his poor choices any more, because he’s trying to set things right. When he talked about that kind of stuff in Collective Punishment I didn’t have the background of this new decision and it all felt weak. Of course, the people he’s dealing with in that book didn’t get to see all the stuff that happened in this one either, so maybe I had a more authentic DMZ-inhabitant experience when I read it with this hole in my knowledge.
Before that redemption-filled part of the story, there are a great bunch of supershort vignettes with different artists.
Metal is the fifth volume of Brian Wood’s excellent Northlanders series. As per usual, it’s got multiple stories in the book, each one with a different illustrator. I wasn’t such a huge fan of the story about the merchant captain who took his boat on a voyage of exploration instead of trade. I mean, it wasn’t bad or anything; it just didn’t grab me the way the big story, Metal, did.
Metal was about a crappy blacksmith who’s chosen by one of the old gods (while he’s tripping out on hallucinogens) to stop his village from bowing down and letting the Christians have their way with them just because they’ve got sacks of money. He rescues a woman the Christians are holding and then burns everything down. The two of them head off like an ancient day Bonnie and Clyde. They’re pursued by a hired sword who takes his job very seriously, and it’s violently excellent.
One thing I love about this series is how it is not tied to any sort of chronology. There are hundreds of years separating different stories, but they’re all Viking tales. It also means they’re easy books to recommend since you don’t need to read them in any really specific order.
It’s no secret that I love Brian Wood’s DMZ. Hearts and Minds is part 8 of the series and I enjoyed it more than the previous volume. The main reason for that is when we get to the Matty Roth part of the story (after an excellent story about a suicide bomber) he’s being questioned by other characters the same way that I’ve been questioning him, about how he’s changed and isn’t what he used to be. It’s turning the whole story into one of observing and talking versus taking action. At one point Matty says something like “The last thing we need around here is another idiot running around with a blog.” An issue near and dear to my heart. The book remains great and one of my no hesitation recommendation comics.
War Powers evidently falls somewhere in the second act of Brian Wood’s comic DMZ. The art remains dirty and everything you’d want out of a new american civil war in New York, but I have to admit I feel like Matty Roth (the journalist protagonist) feels like he’s losing his way. This volume he spends doing political work, not being the voice in the wilderness. I don’t know. I’m not saying Mr. Wood is writing it wrong or anything, but I miss the way Matty used to be. In this volume he takes a stand that I don’t agree with, not one bit. It’s still a good story, but I feel like it’s becoming a sad one.
Brian Wood’s SF journalism comic DMZ is my favourite ongoing comic series, and Blood in the Game tickled me in all the right ways. The trades for this book are almost self contained story arcs which is nice. This one is about the election in New York. And this one kind of steps over the line where Matty Roth (who started off as a journalism intern dumped into a war zone, and is now the only independent(ish) news voice in the war zone that is New York) goes into activism instead of just reporting. I expected a shift but I didn’t expect him to get co-opted so quickly.