Farewell to DMZ

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.
I read comic books.  This is not to say that I do not also read graphic novels, because I do.  But in all seriousness, I love reading monthly published trade released comic books.  While a lot of the media I consume these days is now digital, comic books remain a format I still largely prefer to read in print.  Sure I will occasionally buy comics on my tablet through comiXology, but only in instances where I am stranded and bored (like an airport or the bus to work).  Purchasing in print, and in person, is incredibly easy for me.  This is mostly due to Fantastic Comics being located only a few block from my house in Berkeley.  The brothers who work there are not only knowledgeable, but they know me by name.   Additionally, they know which issues I prefer, and make excellent recommendations based on that knowledge.

The reason I am discussing comic books is because one of my favorite series of all time, DMZ, just published their last of 72 issues this December.  I was in New York City when the last issue was released and I made a specific point to stop by Midtown Comics to purchase it for the plane ride back to San Francisco.  DMZ, written by Brian Wood, has been in circulation since 2005.  I began reading it on a whim in 2007 and was hooked almost instantly.  To date, it remains one of the only series where I have made a point to own every issue.

A simple synopsis of the book is that following the collapse of the World Trade Centers on 9/11, a series of subsequent events rip the United States apart and plunges it into a second civil war.  New York City becomes something of a no-mans-land between opposing sides of this conflict, and is effectively cordoned off from the rest of the world after being declared a Demilitarized Zone.

The prevailing story through DMZ's run follows a reporter, Matthew Roth, as he documents life inside the DMZ without the added filter of the traditional media.  Also of note throughout the series is a former medical student, Zee Hernandez, who befriends and saves Matty on numerous occasions.  As Matt falls deeper into darkness and corruption, Zee remains the constant which lifts him upward.

The story-lines throughout the series run are simply fantastic. Wood's ability to draw out suspense paired with Richard Burchielli's unique and stylistic artwork always had DMZ sitting at the top of my reading list.  While the series never gained a large following, it did established for itself a strong and tight-knit community of loyal readers.  My local comic book shop would always stock just enough of the latest DMZ issue to appease the fans that frequented the store.  Usually you could find the issues sitting on the bottom of a shelf, tucked away out of sight.  Be that as it may, within a week of a new issues release, the stores entire stock would have all been sold.

Having purchased a few comics so far in the new year, it's pretty sad when I find myself searching the shelves for the lastest DMZ issue only to then remember the series has reached it's conclusion.  Fortunately, Brian Wood writes for a number of major publishers, and another of his DMZ Vertigo titles Northlanders has been another favorite of mine since I began reading it last year.

Even if you don't regularly read comic books, checking out Issue #1 of DMZ for free is worth your time.  The excellent storytelling aside, comics offer an incredibly engaging and artistic medium that is not easily replicated in other books or magazines.  While I am sad to see the series go, I am happy that Wood choose to end it in such a fitting and respectful manner.  To Brian, I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors, and thank you for work you undertook to make DMZ the outstanding comic that it will always be remembered as.

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A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.