Caught In Between: The Conflicted City in DMZ

André Cabral de Almeida Cardoso


In Brian Wood’s and Riccardo Burchielli’s graphic narrative DMZ, the United States are in the middle of a second civil war, and Manhattan has become a demilitarized zone caught between the federal army stationed on the east and the advancing armies of seceding states in the west. Matty Roth, a young intern from a media network, finds himself stranded in the DMZ and becomes the only journalist embedded in the city. In exploring the ways Matty tries to make sense of the embattled zone, DMZ presents the city as a dynamic space, whose meaning changes according to the different ways it is perceived. The aim of this paper is to examine the conflicting representations of the city in the narrative, taking into consideration not only its dystopian aspects, but also its utopian possibilities. In DMZ, the city has become a symbolic space where the tensions of global capitalism are played out and those excluded by the system try to make themselves visible. This article will also examine how personal identity is influenced by the way the individual sees and interacts with this contradictory space, being fundamentally shaped by the experience of the city.

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