What happens when ‘Black Hawk Down’ meets comics? You’ll get DMZ! The worst nightmare of the United States if it got caught in a second civil war. How bad can it get? Just really hard and ugly! Like every war off course. As the reader you get a glimpse of how it got started, and life in a city under siege that just can’t get- and be occupied by the main aggressors.
I'll tell you, it won’t happen very often, that I just get blown away by a comic. At least, I cannot remember the last time that I closed the book and sat down for at least 10 minutes and think about what I had just read. This happened after I had read ‘DMZ #4 Friendly Fire’. I bought the book at the local comic store, as I try to keep up with the series, settled in a chair in the Rotterdam Library on the third floor and entered the war. After one-and-a-half hour I closed the book and I couldn’t bring out any word for at least 10 minutes.
In the near future, New York City is the plaything of two entities during a second civil war. The United States of America and the Free States of America. Anti-establishment militias in the 50 states rise up as they are fed up with the wars fought overseas and push their way to the coasts. Eventually it comes to a standstill on a piece of land, that just none of both parties are able to occupy – Manhattan, better known as, the DMZ.
Wikipedia describes the term DMZ as follows: In military terms, a demilitarized zone (DMZ) is an area, usually the frontier or boundary between two or more military powers (or alliances), where military activity is not permitted, usually by peace treaty, armistice, or other bilateral or multilateral agreement. Often the demilitarized zone lies upon a line of control and forms a de-facto international border.
I’d give the following description for the DMZ in Manhattan, as I’m following this series: A demilitarized zone (DMZ) is an area, usually the frontier or boundary between two or more military powers (or alliances), where military activity is just… not… possible.
In DMZ #4 the main-protagonist, Matthew Roth a photojournalist for Liberty News, gets an interview with an enlisted U.S. Army soldier who is prosecuted for a massacre on day 204 of the war, in the DMZ. Roth searches answers for question’s as: Who gave the order? How far up does it go up the chain of command? Who is eventually really to blame? More questions arise and more shit and dirt is find as Roth digs in the story and the events of that day.
As with all the volumes, the story is written by Brian Wood and the drawings are done by Riccardo Burchielli. They get joined by guest artists, and in this edition by Nathan Fox, Viktor Kalvachev and Kristian Donaldson.
The story of the soldier that’s found guilty of the massacre is done by Fox. I’m not surprised if Fox was inspired by stories and pictures of the First World War. Because the first thing I noticed, and partly due to my history teacher-education and my interest of the latest century, was the mix of first world war – and modern uniforms of the U.S. Army soldiers. Add to it the brutal illustrations and design of the chapter. It digs up the tension and feeling of trench war and takes the reader into a nightmare.
Then follows the story about the massacre told by a platoon sergeant. Illustrated by Burchielli, Fox and Kalvachev. The nightmare is then confronted with the hardened and experienced background of the platoon commander.
A more neutral, but loaded like the other illustrators, style by Donaldson guides the story of the civilian survivors. Make no mistake, every artist applies his qualities at the best to carry the reader into the story and feel sympathy for the protagonists.
‘Friendly Fire is An Oxymoron’ is the title of the foreword by sergeant John G. Ford. Those are mild, but loaded and true words to start this volume of DMZ.