February 20, 2009
The occupied territory of Manhattan is supposed to be a demilitarized zone — as long as you ignore the blown-apart corpses in front of the bodegas and Trustwell Corp assassins infiltrating the block parties.
I don't review other writers' books. Mostly, because I don't like what I see. But this graphic novel, DMZ by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, is too good to let go by unheralded.
Click on the image to get a feel for it.
DMZ is New York in the future, and it looks uncomfortably too much like America today. There's a phony war on terror, a hunt for illusory insurgents and troublemakers, which becomes the trigger-point excuse for crushing the heaving, rising underclass.
Except here, in the comic, America's culture war and class war has moved to its inevitable bloody conclusion: a corporate junta pretending to provide safety to war-torn New York while using high-tech military intelligence and scum-bag death squads to hold on to power.
In the center of the story is a half-assed but earnest journalist Matty Roth on the Lower East Side whose need to voice the story of the voiceless is at war with his reasonable cowardice. Tell me about it.
Reporter Roth is sent in to find and cover a charismatic street leader, Parco Delgado, who declares his candidacy with explosives. Is Delgado a greasy, piece-of-crap thug or a savior in a dirty T-shirt? What makes creators Wood and Burchielli such smart storytellers is that they don't make the answer simple, but they don't fail to give the answer. If the story sounds weird it's because any story that's real is weird.
I'm writing this after filing my own story from Eight Mile in Detroit. One foreclosed home after another, weeds to the roof. This guy in the last un-emptied house on the street told me his son was shot dead in his back yard. There's several foreclosure notices on his dinner table. He's working seven straights to keep his kids from having to live in a homeless shelter. But he's screwed and he knows it. He doesn't stand a chance. America is a fixed casino.
DMZ is a brilliant news report from inside America's skull dreaming into the future - when the "stimulus" has worn off and reality eats our young.
I'll make you a deal. Buy the book — DC Comics brought it out this week — and make Brian and Riccardo happy. Or better, click here to buy the book www.palastinvestigativefund.org/dmz-6-with-greg-palast-intro-voto-dmz from this journalist on the Lower East Side, by making a tax deductible donation of $75 or more and I'll send you a copy signed by gracious author Wood, and I'll sign it too. (My excuse for adding my name to their effort is I wrote the intro to the book.)
Maybe it's a bit weird to end a review with a request for money. But it's like this: Two-dimensional journalists live on ink and imagination, but three-dimensional ones live on falafel sandwiches, re-heated coffee and the un-tender mercies of dead-broke publishers. Truly, the Palast Investigative Team needs your support www.palastinvestigativefund.org. We've laid off staff, we've cut back on falafel — but we cannot continue to report from the front lines of the economic wars without your help. And that's the non-fiction here on the Lower East Side of the new reality.
I want to thank those who supported the Palast/Bobby Kennedy investigations of the elections theft over these past years. But now we need to take on a bigger story. We are snaking our way into the file cabinets of the financial vultures that are turning worldwide Depression into a profit center. But Con Ed wants its pound of flesh monthly. They won't take "hope" as payment. Help us. Investigative reporting is needed now more than ever. Sincere thanks, Greg Palast
Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. He reports for BBC Television Newsnight and Air America Radio's Clout! Go to www.gregpalast.com.
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