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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 237

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the comics posted so far!

Today we look at a striking two-parter from DMZ called “The Island” by Brian Wood and guest-artist Kristian Donaldson that appeared in DMZ #35-36.


In case you are unfamiliar with DMZ, it’s about an alternate reality where there is another Civil War in the United States and the “Free States of America” spring up across America and actually coalesce into a decent-sized military force, actually winning a battle against US forces in Pennsylvania and march all the way to New York City, gaining territory along the way in New Jersey. They are stymied by US forces at New York City, though, and the war enters a stalemate, with the majority of the citizens of Manhattan evacuated and the island turned into a great big demilitarized zone, hence the name of the series, DMZ. Riccardo Burchielli is the regular artist on the series, which is written by Brian Wood. The protagonist of the city is Matty Roth, a journalist who by this point in the series has become a bit of a cult hero among the people, so he can more or less go wherever he wants in pursuit of a story.

In these issues, Roth examines what has become of Staten Island in all of this mess.

It has become a US outpost where they keep an eye on the Free State forces. And, since they are not actively fighting, the soldiers look for ways to relax…

Matty eventually discovers what is going on here – the commander of the US forces has basically turned the island into a safe haven where US forces and Free State forces can interact without fear of violence.

The majority of the first issue is set establishing the scenery and the situation and then, once you get everything down, Wood drops the bomb – a vial of ricin has gone missing. And now, well, now everything changes.

It’s pretty much like a horror movie – the “innocent” party-goers are suddenly beset by a monster – the party-goers are the Free Staters and the “monster” is the interrogators of the US forces…

Brutal stuff, huh?

Pick up these issues (they were collected in the DMZ trade titled DMZ Vol. 7: War Powers) and find out just how much more of a downward spiral things get as the situation deteriorates to the point of no return. It’s gripping stuff.

Kristian Donaldson did excellent fill-in work. I didn’t show them, but John Paul Leon’s covers were great, too. But, then again, it’s John Paul Leon, do you need me to tell you that they were great covers? It’s sort of a given.


One of my favorite books. I love how Wood takes little “side trips” like this build up the world he’s built while still enriching the “main” plot.

Finally, Mr. Cronin. Finally. All these days of cool comics and cool moments and you finally got around to spotlighting DMZ. Thank you.

It’s such an awesome concept and it’s well done all around. One of the genius things about this series is how Brian Wood never really takes a side in the civil war. He’s not pro-Free States or pro-USA or pushing either ones agenda. He puts Matty Roth into some shit and has him point out what’s wrong with each side and the toll the war takes on the city and citizens of Manhattan. He never loses that focus. And the art has been more than solid through over 50 issues. And Burchielli’s art gives the book this disheveled, messy look you’d almost expect from a warzone. There haven’t been that many fill-in artists through the run, but the ones that showed up came to play and turned in some great work.

I highly recommend this and any other Brian Wood work to anyone listening.

Man, I wish Kristian Donaldson would draw more comics. He’s done some consistently great cover work, but it feels like forever since he did any interiors. Here’s hoping he has some stuff in the works.

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