After a several month diversion (and an enjoyable one, don't get me wrong), Brian Wood takes "DMZ" back to the heart of the latest storyline, and it's a doozy. After all, Delgado getting control of a nuclear device was hardly a small moment, and something that certainly wouldn't stay hidden for long. So when Wood has Matty Roth hold a press conference telling the world that the City of Manhattan is now a nuclear-armed state, well, you can just imagine everything hitting the fan. And you'd be right.
What I like about this latest issue of "DMZ" is that it shows just how far "DMZ" has come since those early issues. Matty Roth has slowly transformed from survivor to journalist, and now from journalist to politician. He's as much a part of the DMZ's guiding forces as anyone else now, even as the United States and the Free States continue to encircle the island of Manhattan and stability and safety are little more than words. It's a pleasant combination of political thriller and action-adventure, and Wood keeps the two meshed well together.
I also appreciate that his characters continue to feel like real people. It would be easy to make Delgado or Roth a one-dimensional, simple character. They (as well as the other characters) are much more complex, though, and not easy to categorize. I never know from one page to the next if I should trust Delgado or not; it's as if I'm living in the DMZ, as well. Even the two sides in the Second American Civil War are hard to point to and say which is good and which is bad; "DMZ" is a world of never-ending shades of gray.
Riccardo Burchielli continues to knock the art on the book out of the park. There's something about the way he draws buildings and city streets that just enthralls me; from the open, empty loft with patterns of boards on its floors and ceilings, to the canyons formed by the different skyscrapers, everything looks remarkably real. Burchielli gives Manhattan its own character; it's amazing how striking the simple image of a city street with smoke and fire leaping out of its doorway can look under Burchielli's watch.
It's hard to say if "DMZ" is starting to move towards a conclusion, or merely ramping up for what's to come. To be honest, I'm glad I can't figure it out. "DMZ" continues to be full of surprises, but they're always pleasant ones if you're a reader. (Not so pleasant if you're a character, though.) If you aren't reading "DMZ" yet, you're missing out on a real treat.