I've just finished Blood in the Game, the sixth collection in Brian Wood's remarkable comic book series DMZ, a nail-biting, blood-boiling story of America gripped by civil war and the cynics who profit from it.
America's civil war has its front lines in Manhattan, in the DMZ where the Free States (separatist militiamen), the USA and its military contractor, Trustwell (a stand-in for Halliburton or Blackwater) all clash. For years, Matty Roth, a roving reporter who has an on-again/off-again relationship with Liberty News (think Fox News) has cataloged the human cost of the manipulative, cynical profiteering on all sides of the conflict, but now he's even more in the thick of it than ever.
It's election season in the DMZ. New York will elect its own governor and become independent — supposedly. In reality, it appears that the fix is in, with the USA prepared to install a "Paul Bremer wannabe" as a puppet ruler. Then Parco Delgado, a street-fighting charismatic (derided as "a cross between Al Sharpton and Che Guevara") throws his hat in to the ring, declaring himself to be the real choice of the people. Matty is swept up in populist fervor (only slightly dimmed when he discovers that the Delgado Nation has hired his estranged mother, a left-wing political operative, to run the campaign) and breaks with Liberty News just as an unsuccessful assassination attempt puts Delgado in hospital.
A story about the limits of democracy and the power of populism, about the role of the press and the bravery of the voter, Blood in the Game furthers the fantastic work that Wood has done thus far on his story set in an utterly plausible America at war with itself. This is the kind of storytelling I read comics for.
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