The Washington Post
The Washington Post
Readers might assume that they're watching a report from Baghdad as they see a suicide bomber massacring a ragged urban crowd gathered for a clean water distribution in this dark political satire. Actually, the scene is New York City, front line in a full-scale civil war between Free States rebels and the U.S. government. The main focus is Matty Roth, a kid who thought he was entering the city as mere assistant to a veteran reporter but who now finds himself an agonizingly "embedded journalist" with more power and responsibilities than he ever wanted. For Matty and readers, there's no longer any safe distance from the violence. At the same time, however, the residents of the DMZ feel unexpected, growing satisfaction at what they can do now that they've been violently freed from a government's sham protection, with only themselves to rely on. Wood's scripts present the characters' mingled pain and hope well, but Burchielli's outstanding art really sells the story by intensifying familiar urban grunge into a Third �World�like battle zone. He has a good sense of the city as a sniper-haunted landscape, from deserted streets to a maimed Statue of Liberty. This book is a disturbing, challenging success. (Feb.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 11 Up
The free army militia has spread from the West into New Jersey and is banging on the bridges and tunnels of Manhattan. What's left is a group of civilians, some there to rebel, some with nowhere else to go. When Matty Roth finds that the senior journalist with whom he came to New York isn't dead, as he thought, but is being held hostage by the Free States Army, Matty becomes a pawn in all sides of the conflict. Front and center are many of the concerns of 21st-century American life, such as homeland security, the trustworthiness of the media, and the motivations of our government. Wood ably shows how life goes on for those in a war zone, even as superficially it seems to be destroyed. Burchielli and Donaldson's artwork elevates the story to another level. Much of it is standard adventure-comic fare, but with the graffiti-addled details of a recognizable but unfamiliar Manhattan displaying the deadly mood. The art is enhanced by multiple full-page spreads that share the layout and palette of actual graffiti stencils. A harsh light is shown on America, and the characters, especially Matty, both defend and decry it, frequently with much profanity. But what else could be expected from someone deployed in a war zone?-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD
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