His actions in Hearts and Minds left former journalist Matty Roth with much to mull over, but before that’s explored a number of guest artists take a shot a some story ideas Brian Wood didn’t figure worth an entire issue.

There have been exceptions, but by and large Wood’s single issue stories haven’t worked as well as his longer serials, but cutting them down still further resulted in some nice character pieces. It’s unclear why regular artist Riccardo Burchielli’s contribution should be in black and white, other than it being interesting to see, but it’s the segment that impacts most on future stories as Roth chats with the leader of the Free States movement. Or does he? It seems improbable. Other chapters are illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs, Ryan Kelly, John-Paul Leon and Fabio Moon, with one page pin-up pages accompanied by character sketches. Decade Later by Dave Gibbons is particularly memorable.

A nuclear detonation north of Manhattan has changed both the political and urban landscape, and with a heavy weight on his conscience, Roth has relocated nearer the danger area for the isolation it affords. ‘M.I.A.’ is a very spartan story until the final chapter. Roth wallows in self-pity, comes to a decision, but before he can fully implement his plan he’s waylaid by thugs loyal to Parco Delgado’s sister. Burchielli’s portrayal of a world-weary woman searching for answers is astounding, all the more so given she’s a relatively minor character in the scheme of things. This is a woman with her story written across her face, and we latterly realise Roth has joined that club.

Once again Wood manages to surprise, providing a conclusion that leaves Roth pretty well where he started at in On the Ground, and credible reasoning supplied for it. The story continues in Collective Punishment, which is collected with this in the hardback DMZ Deluxe Edition book four.