SyFy to air TV adaptation of Veritigo’s DMZ. The full weight and credit of Warner Bros. seems to be paying off for DC comics – if only on the small screen. DMZ, based on a 72 issue comic series from the publisher’s Vertigo line, will be joining the slate of DC properties headed to television; the line-up currently including Gotham (Fox), Constantine (NBC), The Flash & iZombie (The CW), and even Preacher (AMC).
About Vertigo’s DMZ:
Written by Brian Wood, with artwork by Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, the series is set in the near future, where a second American civil war has turned the island of Manhattan into a demilitarized zone (DMZ), caught between forces of the United States of America and secessionist Free States of America.
In issue #2, its explained that the Free States are less a geographical entity than “an idea”, and that the movement began with an uprising of secessionist groups that formed a separate government in Montana before spreading across the country. The Free Armies and the U.S. military first met in combat at Allentown, Pennsylvania where the Free Armies won, after which the Free Armies descended on New York. The planned evacuation of Manhattan went disastrously wrong, but despite that the US Army was finally able to halt the advance of the Free States forces.
There was even a sense among troops that the US forces were ready to start reclaiming territory from and pushing back the Free States army, until the calamity of Day 204, when a squad of US soldiers mistakenly gunned down nearly 200 peace protesters. With the US robbed of all momentum and public support for an advance, the two sides settled into an uneasy stalemate, where Manhattan is the location of the DMZ between the two warring parties, with the FSA occupying territory including New Jersey and inland, and the United States holding Brooklyn, Long Island, and other parts unknown. The US Government still holds at least part of New York State, and presumably other territories further northeast.
Manhattan is mainly empty, with only 400,000 people still on the island (compared with 1.5 million in the 2000 census), populated only by the poor who were not evacuated, snipers and holdouts. Wood has described the setting as: “Think equal parts Escape from New York, Fallujah, and New Orleans right after Katrina”.
Through the series’ first 22 issues, DMZ followed Matty Roth through various crises in his first year and a half around the DMZ and the surrounding areas, such as military bases of the Free Armies and of the United States. In issue #23, however, Brian Wood started several tangents from the main storyline and devoted single issues to the stories of several other characters from the DMZ; a street artist, a young girl living rough, the triad leader Wilson, Matty’s love interest Kelly, a local DJ, and the commander of the Central Park “Ghosts” – Soames, respectively. The story returned to primarily following Matty Roth in issue #29.
The natural assumption, for those unfamiliar with the source material, might be to equate the fictional Free States movement with the actual secessionist sentiment of the current Tea Party movement. Bear in mind, then, that the series was launched at the height of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq (and the War on Terror, overall), and had some roots in the student push back movements against NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Brian Wood on the comic’s set-up:
Midwestern militia groups revolt against their local governments in protest of rampant U.S. adventurism overseas and, in the absence of the National Guard, are able to gain far more ground than they thought possible. Small insurgent groups pop up in towns and cities across the country, and a sizable force, the Free States Army, pushes toward Manhattan. The city proves too big for them to take, and also for the U.S. Army to defend. The war stalls there, a stalemate, neither side being able to shift things.
If the politicizing of The Hunger Games was any indication, I don’t expect the source history to slow down real life calls for resistance rallying around the TV series (much like the NRA has embraced the Zombie Apocalypse for its call-to-arms). The success of The Hunger Games and The Walking Dead may have inspired such drek as NBC’s Revolution; but there is reason to hold DMZ to loftier expectations.
Former Mad Men writers and executive producers Andre and Maria Jacquemetton will write the pilot, and serve as executive producers, alongside producer David Heyman (Gravity, Harry Potter). The Jacquemetton’s stellar run on the AMC series should go some ways to overcome concerns about the noticable drop in SyFy series production values. Frankly, the network has abandoned high-end productions, like BSG and Stargate; and even its most ambitious offerings, of late (Defiance, Helix), seem relatively cut-rate. Hopefully, the move from AMC to SyFy will not constitute a stripping of the Jacquemettons’ Slim Chance Production’s resources; Warner Horizon (Warner Televison’s cable division) will be splitting the bill, along with David Heyman’s Heyday Films.
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