In many ways, “DMZ #32” is an issue like all the others: politically charged, deeply complex and unafraid to change everything. For the first year of the title’s life span, readers waited patiently for a status quo to emerge. Then they realized there wasn’t ever going to be one. Since then, it’s improved with every new issue — and, once again, this is the case with “DMZ #32”.
The current arc, “Blood in the Game,” takes a look at the politics of elections where the democratic process isn’t quite as clearly defined (or democratic) as it might want to be. While Wood’s usual touchstone for the politics of “DMZ” tends to be the difficult military situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s worth pointing out that the idea of a dangerous election certainly has a parallel this week in Zimbabwe’s Presidential race — it’s that sort of timeliness which makes “DMZ” stand out. There’s never really been a comic this able to commentate and respond to current events so well.
While the arc features a Hugo Chavez/Che Guevara-inspired character in Parco Delgado, Wood approaches the matter from an impartial viewpoint without defining the exact politics of groups like the Free States or the Delgado Nation, meaning that readers can apply their own interpretations of how it applies to the real world without being swayed by the specifics. Lead character Matty Roth, however, isn’t quite as immune to this as we are. In this arc, he has thrown his lot in with Delgado wholeheartedly. It seems like a move that’ll eventually backfire hard, but the brilliant thing about “DMZ” is that what would seem like an obvious setup in any other series is still uncertain in this. Things could still go anywhere next for Matty.
Of course, all this assumes you want to follow the politics. Luckily, if you’re just interested in the plot, “DMZ” provides you with twists and turns aplenty, never failing to yank the rug out from under someone. It’s not quite as tightly constructed as Wood’s character-driven, introspective pieces as seen in “Demo” or “Local,” but each issue is still a page-turner. By this point in the series, the fabric of “DMZ” has become so brilliantly woven that characters like Zee and Matty’s “friend” from the Free States can appear and deepen an already satisfying complex plot without confusing readers.
So, as the review began by saying: this issue is like all the previous ones. Entertaining, and intelligent, not perfect, but always close to it. Read it.