It’s a little surprising, then, that the new issue doesn’t pick up where the previous one leaves off. DMZ #50 is essentially a primer for or celebration of the series, a group of vignettes and character sketches drawn by various artists and set in happier times, to the extent that “in happier times” applies. There are one-page introductions to a bunch of DMZ‘s major players (including, curiously, a present-tense piece about one who’s already died on-panel). Most of the issue’s short stories concern one of the series’ persistent undercurrents: the way Wood’s New Yorkers keep their culture alive even when they’re under siege.
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In one story (drawn by Ryan Kelly, Wood’s collaborator on Local), we meet a “looter” who’s been preserving priceless artworks from New York’s museums until the war’s over; in another (a silent piece stylishly drawn by Fabio Moon), the saintly medic Zee Hernandez saves a kid from a bomb that looks like a toy. The issue’s a good introduction–a black-and-white short, drawn by Burchielli, even advances the overall plot a little. Still, it’s hard to swallow a piece about how one regular character has heroically kept Chinatown’s culinary traditions alive, now that we’ve learned he’s also a gangster who’s slaughtered his rivals to consolidate his power. But hey, hydroponically grown ong choi!
That disconnection between what we see on the page (since this issue is presented as pieces that Matty is writing) and what experienced DMZ readers know about the characters may be part of the point Wood is making with this issue. Storyline after storyline in this series has pounded home the idea that there is no such thing as entirely “impartial” reporting in a war zone–not just because even the presentation of facts can have an ideological bias, but because information is one of the most powerful weapons in war. Of course Matty is giving us a good impression of himself and his cronies; that’s what embedded reporters do. If we know more than what they tell us, we may know better.
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