NEWSFLASH: Adapting comic books into movies and television shows is the new cool thing to do in Hollywood. Think back on all the summer blockbusters in the past decade: Iron Man, Batman, Spiderman, Superman, X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, and by this summer Green Lantern and Thor will have graced the silver screen. Even independent comics like Kick-Ass, the Walking Dead, Hellboy, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, and Hellblazer/John Constantine have been adapted into a movie or show. Now most of these are not very good. In fact all of them are pretty terrible. Alan Moore has constantly gone on the record about how his comic books and graphic novels should not be made into movies because writers and producers keep mucking them up. Hell if I wrote three of the greatest comics of all time, only to see Zac Snyder take a dump all over Watchmen, I would be pissed too.
Out of all the comics being adapted today, I constantly wonder why the series DMZ has not been made into something. A TV show, a mini-series, a shitty movie directed by those dudes who did Skyline. Anything! Out of all the series I enjoy reading DMZ is the most realistic of them all.
DMZ: Body of a Journalist (Vertigo Comics)
DMZ, written by Brian Wood, follows photojournalist Matty Roth in demilitarized Manhattan. Through a series of political moves and battles the USA has split into two factions – the United States of America and the Free States of America. Manhattan remains a neutral zone during the civil war and it’s citizens have become neither rebels nor patriots, just people trying to live in a town they know and love. When I first read this series in DMZ: On the Ground I found the concept a little far-fetched. Civil unrest in the USA aka the MOST AMAZING COUNTRY IN THE WORLD?! But I started to think. Look at all the countries in an upheaval the past decade. Sri Lanka finally ended a 20+ civil war in the past five years. Cairo blew up recently through a massive political revolution. Ireland is still split into two countries due to religious and political differences. Is another civil war in America that inconceivable?
The first trade paperback of DMZ was interesting but didn’t really have a compelling arc that made me want to keep reading. Issues 1 through 7 featured Matty running around the DMZ, taking pictures for Liberty News and learning to adapt to a new, alien New York. But the second trade DMZ: Body of a Journalist really explodes. Now Matty is acclimated to his new surroundings and has gotten into a groove in new Manhattan. He’s made friends with many of the people still living in the DMZ and gained a good report with the locals, something that’s hard to do for a journalist.
And then, of course, shit hits the fan. Because of course, they live in the DMZ and stuff blows up every day. Kudos to Wood for creating a setting that can offer itself to any situation. Matty is suddenly thrust into a situation where he’s the liaison between the Free States militia and the USA. He quickly learns neither can be trusted because both sides are playing him, his life is put into immediate danger, and the DMZ might get bombed so the USA can wrap up the problem in a nice explosive bow. Where On the Ground failed to capture my continued attention, Body of a Journalist has made me into a DMZ addict. Wood humanizes war in such a way where every read can be enjoyed without getting beaten over the head with allegories to real-world political situations. It makes you think – a rare occurrence in the flights-and-tights world of mainstream comics. Civil War came close, but Wood’s DMZ does it better.