"DMZ" is nearing the end of its run as the series is set to conclude with issue #72. By my calculations, this means that we'll have at least two more collected editions to go before you can read the entire thing in paperback. While it hasn't reached the rarefied heights of other Vertigo titles like "Sandman," "Preacher," or "Transmetropolitan," to name a few, it has still been a very engaging and thought-provoking title throughout the entirety of its run. Though "Collective Punishment" doesn't really further the overall story of the series, it does give us five solid tales of the most and more notable cast members.
The U.S. military has decided that a massive bombing campaign in the DMZ is the only way to break the back of the Free States resistance there, and the ensuing calamity is like nothing the city has ever seen. With this as a backdrop/connecting thread, we find out what Zee, Wilson, Amina, Decade Later, and Matty are up to in this time. Each story also shows us how much these characters have changed over the course of the series, as some of them wind up in places that you wouldn't have expected. Wilson, the cocksure leader of Chinatown, prepares for its end over dinner while reflecting on his responsibilities. We find that Amina, the almost-suicide bomber, has a much stronger sense of self and is capable of looking after more than herself. Graffiti artist Decade Later's story is probably the toughest to take as we're spared no detail of his captivity and interrogation, but it ends on a hopeful note as he prepares for his final exhibition.
Then there's Matty's story. This was the one I was looking forward to the most, as integrating himself back into the DMZ after the events of the past two volumes wasn't going to be an easy task. Still, he manages to make a start of it without getting himself or anyone else killed. His story also shows you that he has a much better idea of his place in the world and how things work. Throughout most of the series, he felt like a character who was in over his head and destined for a fall. Now that the fall has happened, I like seeing how he has recovered from it and am looking forward to his exploits in the coming volumes.
Zee's story is the exception in that it's not really about her. It's about a nameless soldier sent in under deep cover to achieve the military's objectives. After he botches his extraction, he winds up in a shelter with Zee and a couple dozen other citydwellers. Personally, I find the idea behind his military purpose fascinating and we get a very effective dramatization as to how he ultimately can't live with what he has done.
Art comes from five different artists: Andrea Mutti, Nathan Fox, Danijel Zezelj, Cliff Chiang, and David Lapham. Mutti, Chiang, and Lapham all do strong work, though their style doesn't differ too much from that of regular artist Riccardo Burchielli to really stand out. Fox and Zezelj do that themselves as the wild colors and exaggerated style of the former contrast nicely with the downbeat nature of the story (Wilson's) that he illustrates. Zezelj handles Decade Later, and his style proves surprisingly appropriate and compatible for the tale of the graffiti artist -- giving you the idea that if he illustrated an issue of this series, this is what it'd look like.
I'll miss this series when it's gone. At this point, I'm also certain that after ten great volumes so far, it'll go out on a high note.