Sean Maher's Quality Control

Thursday, November 10, 2005

DMZ #1: Watch your back.

I've read a lot of Brian Wood books over the last few years, and while I've enjoyed them all (see my recent advance review of Local #1, which out next week), it's almost always been a qualified pleasure. The man knows how to write a fun action sequence, but I've often found his characters too be a little too sentimentalized and his occasional lecturing can be a bit much. Demo #7, for example, "One Shot, Don't Miss", struck me as a pretty clumsy, obvious dig at the United States' military, and one more generic voice in the chorus of sensitive arty types railing against all things right wing.

(This was followed, a mere four weeks later, by Demo #8, "Mixtape" which was absolutely stunning, my favorite issue of the series, but that's neither here nor there.)

So it was only because this was a "small" week that I picked up DMZ #1, Wood's new Vertigo series with artist Riccardo Burchielli about a journalist embedded in a New York warzone. The idea seemed ripe for abuse - fertile ground for every element of "One Shot, Don't Miss" that I disliked.



What I got instead was the best Vertigo launch since The Losers, and the best "first issue" I've read in a long time.

The characters are built quickly and effectively, but what really snaps here is the set-up. It's a lot more clever and nuanced than I'd expected. It's fast and it's hard and it's scary. It's disorienting. It's thick.

There's a fuck of a lot of comic here. You remember the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan? How you held your breath for like ten minutes while everything played out?

That's more or less what this issue is like. Just as protagonist Matty Roth gets dropped in the middle of the story with no explanation, so is the reader. We're learning everything at the same time he is. It makes him identifiable without having to get into his backstory (which is hinted at in bits and pieces). So the suddenness of the violence is striking.

Partially because Burchielli is an awesome artist. Jesus. If you like 100 Bullets or The Losers, you have to give this a look just to see how it looks. Matty's arrival in Manhattan and the closing sequence in particular are jaw-dropping visual storytelling at its best.

There's still room for the series to get preachy if Wood feels like it, but for now it's high adventure of high caliber and it's going on my pull list.

Buzzscope, by the way, has a preview of the first five pages, but really, the whole comic should be read to get what the creative team are doing.

2 Comments:

  • At 6:54 AM, Blogger zilla said…

    sean - i too loved this first issue. i need to write something about it over at Zilla's for sure. any losers fan needs to be reading this.

     
  • At 10:22 AM, Blogger blogsurfer said…

    Hello Sean Maher, I found your blog site while searching for Marvel superheroes. Even though you don't have exactly what I'm looking for, your site did provide for quite an interesting read. Thanks!

     

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