The fifth collected volume of Brian Wood's comic DMZ, "The Hidden War," does the least to advance the story of any of the collections to date -- but does more to advance its theme than any book so far. And that makes it the best book in the series, if you ask me.
DMZ, for those of you who've missed it, is Brian Wood's brilliant (anti-)war comic, telling the story of Matty Roth, a news-rookie who ends up being the only trusted reporter on the besieged island of Manhattan, the DMZ in an American civil war that has torn the city to shreds.
The thing that sets DMZ apart, more than anything else, is its glorification of non-combatants as the true heroes of war. The people who don't want to shoot a gun at anyone, who want to live and love and eat and take care of their children and make art and do their jobs. The true sides to any war are the warriors (of both sides) and the people in their way. The ideological differences between combatants and non-combatants are much deeper than those between the combatants themselves. People who think jihad and the war on terror are both ridiculous have less in common with jihadis and terror-warriors than those parties have with each other.
Book five, "The Hidden War," tells the tales of those non-combatants more vividly than any of the other books to date. Skipping between a graffiti artist, a DJ, a reporter, a mob boss, and an eco-warrior, The Hidden War threads these loosely connected stories together into a unitary whole whose message is, "Fight your war somewhere else." It's a powerful message, and one exceedingly well conveyed through the tense plotting and sharp dialog that have established Wood as one of the great comic-writers of the decade.
* DMZ Friendly Fire: reinventing war comics, making them better and more important
* DMZ Public Works: New collection of moving, thrilling graphic novel
* DMZ: graphic novel, a worthy successor to Transmetropolitan