Public Works is the third collection of DMZ comics, and it's stupendous. DMZ is Brian Wood's remarkable war comics about a civil war in America in which both sides have turned New York into a heavily shelled no-man's-land where the fighting never stops, and the story is told from the point of view of Matty Roth, an intern journalist who is stranded in Manhattan and becomes the world's most celebrated reporter of the war.
In Public Works, Matty — fast becoming one of the best characters in comics — goes undercover on a work-crew operated by a thinly veiled version of Halliburton, a profiteering, ruthless government contractor whose savage mercenaries fight with the UN for jurisdiction over New York.
Wood is a tremendous writer, with a great sense of plot and a soft, smart touch at portraying the two sides that are most opposed in any war: the combatants versus the noncombatants.
DMZ is unrelentingly angry and mean, smart and shocking. Riccardo Burchielli's artwork is the perfect complement, using simple layouts and a great eye for facial expressions as well as backgrounds to keep the pace up. This is one hell of a collection.
I was privileged to write the introduction for this one, and I'm still glowing at the honor. This is special stuff, like Watchmen or Transmetropolitan, comics that have changed the way I look at the genre. Here's an excerpt from the intro:
DMZ is a special kind of angry comic, the kind of angry war comic that tells the story of the other side in the war. Non-combatants aren't just cannon fodder or collateral damage. We've got every bit as much agency, as much control over our destinies, as the guys with the guns and the satellite photos. But you wouldn't know it from how we're depicted in the press — instead, we're the bodies blown apart on street-corners, the shoeless sheep having our hemorrhoid cream confiscated at the airport.
DMZ is an inspiration to we who refuse to be dismembered and unshod. It's a wake-up call to stop letting greedy profiteers sell fresh wars to cement their authority and profitability.
If I had my way, this comic would be required reading in every civics class in America.