DMZ: MIA Redemption without forgiveness

DMZ: MIA is the ninth collection of Brian Wood's spectacular (anti-)war comic set in a Manhattan ravaged by an American civil war that is fuelled by scumbag profiteer military contractors, sensationalist right-wing cable news, hard-ass pandering politicos, and a redneck separatist army who've all converged on New York for a decade of house-to-house fighting amid gangs and co-ops and losers and heroes.

Hearts and Minds, the last volume of DMZ, finished with Matty in a terrible, howling moral vacuum, and this volume opens up with a series of guest-written/drawn sequences that offer flashbulb glimpses into the nobility and sacrifice, the venality and cowardice of war-torn New York.

Then Wood retakes the reins, and paints a picture of Matty Roth, transformed hero of the series, wracked by guilt and self-pity, careening toward self-annihilation, having lost all hope and will. But Wood's not done with Matty, and by the time this episode ends, there's a trademark Wood-ian mixture of redemption without forgiveness to be had through a series of satisfying plot twists that illuminate and confuse the story at the same time.

Wood's written a lot of great stuff (I ran out and read everything he'd done as soon as I'd finished with DMZ one) but this is really his masterwork, an end-of-the-world story that refuses to buy into trite cozy apocalypse, into dog-eat-dog self-rationalized barbarism, or into Pollyanna fables about everyone kissing and making up.

I don't think you can really read this volume without getting into the earlier ones (and I'd argue that the series is so big that it's time for some giant hardcover omnibuses, like the Walking Dead hardcovers), but that just means you should go out and read those earlier ones.



  1. As always with Wood, MIA was awesome. And a refreshing updraft after the unrelenting bleakness of the last one. Given that DMZ is in large part a critique of the behaviour of… well, humans… it’s important to see how smoothly Wood handles Roth’s turnaround. As you say, redemption without forgiveness.

  2. Must be a pretty limited civil war if large corporatations and cable news networks can continue to function.

  3. Why is DMZ not already a film franchise / TV series?

    It’s power is in the thematic content of the narrative, rather than an exploration of a particular medium and its traditions. This is what makes Wood’s work fundamentally different from some other graphic novel heavyweights (Moore, Morrison, Mack et al), which is why these writers work does not translate to film.

    DMZ would be mind-blowing on screen.

    1. It would make a great TV series, if they had the right showrunner. HBO or Showtime could run it. Too complex for the network.

      Oh and for people who haven’t read it: The “sensationalist right-wing cable news” and the “redneck separatist army” are on opposite sides. The postulated war is not pretty, and there are no good guys in it.

  4. Anyone know how to buy comics in Korea without the shipping cost being inexplicably equal to that of the book?


    Yargh! (sorry Mr. Woods. I’ll purchase it for realsies soon as I can).

  5. I started this book right around the time I read the maxi-series ‘Nightly News.’ Both definitely put me in an odd frame of mind. Great books.

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