For the fourth arc of DMZ, Brian Wood and a talented roster of artists present the “Day 204 Massacre,” a friendly fire incident in which 198 protesters are gunned down by US military forces, scarring the psyche of the country irreparably. “Friendly Fire” brings into question the reliability of multiple eyewitness accounts, shifts the narrative to potentially untrustworthy narrators, and suggests that in war there is no clear cut blame to be castigated. The true enemy is likely war itself. The very idea of a friendly fire incident is an indelible part of war that nobody likes to acknowledge, but Brian Wood bravely charges forward to examine one of the most traumatic incidents to occur in the DMZ. Artistically, the stories are framed so that as Matthew Roth investigates, each flashback account relayed by a Day 204 eyewitness is rendered by a different artist, underscoring the idea of perceived differences in reality depending on point of view, and leaving the audience reeling in uncertainty. “Friendly Fire” collects issues 18 through 22, with art contributions by Riccardo Burchielli, Nathan Fox, Kristian Donaldson, and Viktor Kalvachev.
Brian, issue 18 references summer in NYC as “the killing season.” As a New Yorker, does the heat really get to people in such a dramatic way?
Nah, it doesn’t make people murder other people, but it does make you seriously consider it. Joking aside, summers here are really unpleasant. The heat may not be that bad, but the humidity kicks it up several levels, and all that causes the stink to seep out of every sidewalk and trash can. The subway system is a giant brick oven, and the whole place just radiates. You pretty much have to run your air conditioners from May to October.
I wanted to take that common experience all New Yorkers share, that sort of inside joke, and amplify it within the DMZ. No one has air conditioners, I don’t think, in the DMZ. I can only image the smell, the disease, and the stress in that situation.
Nathan Fox is an artist I was immediately impressed by and have bought everything he’s done. I keep saying “he’s the next Paul Pope,” and here he provides the flashbacks for PFC Stevens’ story. How did your collaboration with Nathan come about?