A quick reminder as to what DMZ is about. In a fictional noughties USA the country has split in half between the mid-western Free States and the rest of the country. A second civil war blew up between them and a demoralised U.S army whose troops were mainly deployed overseas soon found them pushed back to New York. They held the city until the accidental massacre of a peace march attended by some of the half a million people left trapped in Manhattan caused them to withdraw and negociate a ceasefire between them based east of New York and the Free States lurking in New Jersey. People in the DMZ have been carrying on with their lives as best they can as chronicled by journalist Matty Roth. Recently there was an election and a charismatic man called Parco Delgado and his Delgado Nation was voted in as a provisional governer. He immediately ordered out the various factions and used Matty to go and buy a nuclear weapon from the Ghosts of Central Park so he can shore up his position in the eyes of the world. A somewhat bitter Matty has alienated his former friends and has got Parco to agree to be him being his sole media mouthpiece. Now this volume contains two parts, a three part story called "No Future" and a five-parter called "Hearts and Minds". It's my policy to split books when they have eight or more parts to them, so this first post is devoted to the "No Future" which is about a legendary cult of mercenaries occupying the Empire State Building and is illstrated by Ryan Kelly.
Inside the Empire State Building a group of men are sitting in a circle having a group therapy session. Our main character is a man called Tony, he speaks of what happened to him and his family on the day of the evacuation, he told them to lock the doors and stay inside. He feels "retarded" saying all this out loud but the group leader encourages him to talk some more.
|Tomy spills his guts.|
Tont starts thinking about what it was like being there. Group therapy was six times a week, "it was always the same. We'd take turns telling our stories, reopening old wounds, probing them, provoking, over and over." It was a bonding exercise only in hindsight does Tony see how manufactured it was. They all had PTSD but didn't need to spend three hours a day reliving it. But it was the glue that held them together, "the raw material that fueld this particular insurgency".
|Out on their destructive mission.|
Tony: "Kept in something not unlike sensory deprivation for fourteen hours a day, and then set loose in this dark playground of fear and violence. We felt like gods".
There mission was to seek out signs of civilisation, signs of military presence, anything growing like a mushroom and kill it to spread their pain around.
He's out on patrol when they get orders to take down a helicopter, under fire they chase after it and crash their car thanks to an ambush. They fight their way through the "street trash", Tony links up with the spotter team. He comes face to face with the helicopter, it's the Liberty News one from Book 1 that came under attack and caused Matty to end up in the DMZ. They fire a rocket at it and the chopper explodes.
He asked around about Viktor and when he realises he's been trafficked he regards it as "another sin I have to atone for". In therapy he goes through his orders that day then talks about his dead wife and child "for the thousandth time". We see in a group hug afterwards. Later he takes out his anger in the gymn using a punchbag.
|Therapy used for evil.|
The Boss turns the TV on and it has footage of the evacuation, Tony asks him to turn it off, but the Boss keeps going and shows him a man in the crowd that day called Mike Costa. He was there when Tony's family was killed and he's still here in the city. The Boss gives Tony his address and tells him to consider it a gift.
Tony: "Did I feel better afterwards? Yeah, sort of, I think. The truth is I was mainly worried about coming back to base, terrified to see what was in store for me."
Sitting alone in a room he's handed an envelope with orders in them. The Boss asks if Mike Costa is dead? Tony affirms this. The Boss says he knew it would be good for him.
He says the vengeance has prepared Tony for what he has to do next. Then he shows Tony his new room, with luxury furniture he says it's a "performance related bonus". Tony ask if its because he murdered a man and his family? The Boss says it's because he finally owned his pain, he "bucked the fuck up and took care of it". It was extraordinary of him. The others can barely keep it together in the group sessions, "you've graduated." Left alone he thinks he "didn't own shit". Sadly he looks out of the window, then goes to floss his teeth and just stares at his reflection in the mirror. He ends up slumped on the bathroom floor with his head in his hands.
|A man in severe pain.|
As the group collapses in chaos, Tony throttles the man thinking he could kill him, he's been trained to. Calmly the Boss says to stop it, and Tony does so. "Do you want to talk about it?" he asks him. Later Tony and the Boss are alone, the Boss stares out the window saying the city is really something. Tony says it's seen better days. The Boss asks if he thinks it can ever be the same again?
Tony thinks not. The Boss agrees, the city will become another Mogadishu. "The sun is setting on America. We're just another failed state" he says. Tony asks if he's turning Free States. The Boss says there is no difference between all the factions. He asks Tony what he wants.
Boss: "Food and shelter? You got it. Safety? Yep, as much as anyone can be safe in the DMZ. Comradery? Got it. Revenge? You got that, right? What am I leaving out".
Tony: "Justice... peace?"
Boss says he'll be able to get justice by doing what he did to Mike Costa. He says Tony has been on a journay from evacuation day to killing Mike Costa.
He thinks back to how the next few seconds played out, he ended up saying not what he meant to say but a different voice from different place. "What about my fucking family?" he snarls. The Boss gives him an envelope with orders in it. "Here's your peace Tony. It was an honour to have known you. See you on the other side".
|His final mission.|
Tony: "The seclusion, the lack of sleep, the emotional manipulation. I'm not making excuses. But in those moments, heading down town. I'm not sure I realised what I was doing."
He arrived at one of the DMZ's shopping streets and suddenly it all clicks in his head. We see hm transported back to evacuation day, while back then he tries to fight through the crowd, Tony of the present looks down on his wife and child's corpse. He apologises to them and thinks, "not sure it's ever really been about me."
He calls out a warning to everyone yelling he has a bomb. As people flee he thinks, "and so this is where it ends. reliving my horrors, stuck in my emotional prison. But this time for the last time. I'm sorry Maribeth, I'm sorry girls. I've been away from you too long". And he touches the wires together and explodes, bringing this arc to an end.
|Tony is finally free.|