February 19, 2010 at 06:48 PM EST

DMZ (Vertigo/DC) is an extremely clever comic book series that regularly transcends mere cleverness. Created by writer-artist Brian Wood, it presents a future New York City as a demilitarized zone surrounded by a civil war. The combatants are the federal government versus the “Free States Army.”

The book’s hero, Matty Roth, began the series a callow photo-journalism intern but has developed into a shrewd go-between and chronicler of the opposing sides.

The new 50th issue of DMZ is a good place to hop into the series if you haven’t read it before, presenting a series of vignettes that touch on various major characters and plotlines. You can also read various trade-paperback collections of the series.

DMZ takes what could have been a trite notion — the idea of “bringing the war home” literally, by turning America into a war zone similar to those in Iraq or Afghanistan– and on the strength of a complex imagination, turns it into a comic book that needs no superheroics, because the heroism is performed by ordinary people you come to care about quickly.

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