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DMZ Vol. 1: On the Ground Paperback – June 7, 2006

4 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
Book 1 of 12 in the DMZ Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A near-future America is torn by war between the Free Armies, who control New Jersey and the inland, and the United States, ensconced in New York City's boroughs. In the war-torn DMZ of Manhattan, Matty Roth, hired as a phototech intern to a famous battlefield journalist, is stranded when the rest of his crew is killed. Overcoming initial panic, he decides to remain as the sole embedded journalist in the devastated, largely depopulated city. It's a career-making assignment--if it doesn't get him killed. Befriended by former med student Zee, who runs a clinic, Matty discovers a society struggling to survive amid skirmishes and snipers (appropriate soundtrack music: Talking Heads' "Life during Wartime"). Of the DMZ issues collected here, the first three establish its premise. In the succeeding two, Matty discovers the "Ghosts of Central Park"--paramilitaries who defend the now-deforested preserve and its zoo animals--and chases a robber who steals his press badge. Wood's writing does justice to the intriguing concept, and Burchielli's jagged artwork effectively conveys the characters' desperation. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Brian Wood released his first series, Channel Zero, in 1997 to critical acclaim, and has produced comics and graphic novels at a brisk pace ever since, becoming one of the most important creators of the last decade. Other works include Couriers, Demo, Local and Supermarket. He has earned multiple Eisner Award nominations, and his work has been published in close to a dozen foreign markets.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo (June 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401210627
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401210625
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.3 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian Wood is the creator/co-creator and writer of numerous comic books and graphic novels, including DMZ, The Massive, Channel Zero, Demo, The Couriers, Northlanders, Rebels, and Briggs Land. He co-wrote the video game screenplay for 1979 Revolution, and has three television projects in active development.

His work on company-owned and licensed work includes Star Wars, The X-Men, Conan The Barbarian, and Aliens. In his previous career as a graphic designer, his clients included Rockstar Games, Eidos Interactive, Nerve, and Nike.

He is most known for work dealing with near-future world building, but also for historical fiction, scifi, and female-friendly YA, all with strong socio-political topics and identity themes.

Brian lives in Brooklyn, NYC with his family.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Imagine if the United States were to enter into a second civil war in the present time. With all the technology available today, such as large bombs, sniper rifles, and biological/chemical devices, what would happen to our country? Why would it happen? In this first volume of Brian Wood's new Vertigo series, DMZ, we only get a taste of what would happen, and we're still in the dark as to why.

Photojournalist intern Matty Roth received his dream assignment when he was picked to accompany a veteran reporter into Manhattan. What is so special about Manhattan? Five years after the start of the war between the United States and the Free States (described only as "New Jersey and inwards"), Manhattan has become a demilitarized zone (DMZ), or a no-man's land. Very few people remain on the island. Some of them are sentries from either army while most of them are poor and/or stubborn people who cannot or will not leave their homes. The island is in ruins; most of the skyscrapers have been destroyed, Central Park is a barren wasteland, and the chances of being picked off by a sniper while walking on the streets are almost 100%. Despite all that, the chance to go there and report on what's happening is the dream of any reporter.

Of course, things don't go as planned, and an explosion takes out the chopper that brought Matty to the island as well as the entire crew he was with. Matty is forced to find a way to survive on his own without the ability to be picked up. His cell phone and laptop allow him to communicate with his producer, and he decides that he might as well carry on his assignment. The things that Matty encounters while in the DMZ are equal parts horrifying, saddening, and at times, enlightening.
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Format: Paperback
You may or may not know who Brian Wood is (yet), but if you are in any way interested in quality comic/graphic novel work, then it's a name you should remember. I have been reading his "Supermarket" series which I have found to be so completely fresh that I felt like I owed it to myself to check out DMZ.

"On The Ground" quickly establishes the scenario, environment, and characters in a terse manner in order to get the story rolling. The quickness of this establishment is aided by the use of a backdrop that is familiar to us all (the events of 9/11), the glazing over of explicit details of exactly how the United States came to be in the current state that Wood has put it in (which will allow for future exposition on the subject), and is a great way to put the reader in the passenger seat and hit the gas. This initial volume is fantastic in setting us up just enough to make the ride fun, and trickling details to us to keep our interest.

"On The Ground" introduces DMZ's main character, young Matty Roth, who is sent to the now-dangerous island of Manhattan as a journalism intern for an investigative news team. He quickly finds himself alone (with equipment) and left to his own survival instincts. Facing a strange world of constantly impending peril, Matt decides that making the best of his situation includes pushing forward with his journalistic intentions. Given this setup, Mr. Wood has created a world with nearly endless possibilites, and the "what-if coolness" of it is very reminiscent of Brian K. Vaughn's "Y: The last Man". I truly cannot wait to see what happens next.

Kudos must also be given to the visual creators of this series.
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I think I was supposed to like this more than I did. After all, what's not to like? The premise is right up my alley. America at war with itself. New York has become an island in the midst of the war. The survivors have hacked out bits and pieces of a society - though anarchy all too often still reigns supreme. A young journalist is in the middle of it all, documenting the war in the midst of New York City and what the war is doing to the civilians there.

Sounds like a great concept. Exactly the sort of thing I'd like to read. So why did the first volume leave me wondering if I wanted to keep reading?

For all the praise Wood gets for this supposed love letter to New York City, I rarely got the sense of place I should have felt. One should be immersed in the city, yet that sense of being there was inconsistent.

Maybe it's the art. Riccardo Burchielli's style does not appeal to me, but that's something I can live with (even if all the characters are as ugly as sin). What I can't live with is rough storytelling. Burchielli draws a great cityscape, but his panel-to-panel work just isn't as clear and direct as it should be.

It doesn't help that the coloring is so muddy. Everything is washed out in a murky reddish hue, so few things really pop from the page. I understand the color choices, but this book really could have used more contrast in that regard. Maybe this is why the issue set in Central Park during the winter looked best.

There SHOULD be a lot to like here. Great premise, great world to explore, and in theory great things ahead. It falls just short of the mark, however. I'm hoping this improves, because there is a lot of potential in the premise.
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