Deadline reports WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service HBO Max has ordered a pilot based on the Vertigo Comics series “DMZ.” Ava DuVernay will be directing the pilot, with a script by showrunner Roberto Patino. “DMZ,” originally written by Brian Wood with art from Riccardo Burchielli, ran for 72 issues from 2005-2012, and is set in the near future during a second American Civil War in the eponymous Manhattan Demilitarized Zone.
The new TV series follows a medic stranded in Manhattan as she searches for her lost son, providing health and hope to the Manhattan Islanders she meets along the way. The story looks to shine a ray of allegorical hope in a divided world meant to mirror the divided political climate of the US today.
“DMZ is a special project to me as it marks a key collaboration with my company Array Filmworks, the excellent team at Warner Bros. TV and the dynamo Roberto Patino,” said DuVernay. “He’s [Roberto Patino] insanely talented and cares about telling stories with maximum impact and imagination. I’m eager to share this one with DC fans.” DuVernay was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for the Netflix series When They See Us, and is also directing DC’s upcoming New Gods film. The series is set to begin production in early 2020, when HBO Max launches.
The news comes a month after Dark Horse Comics severed ties with Brian Wood, including the complete cancellation of his most recent project with the publisher, following allegations of sexual harassment including those of Laura Hudson, the founder of Comics Alliance; Tess Fowler, an acclaimed artist; and Anna Scherbina, a former DC employee.
The accusations date as far back as 2003 and although they have had no legal ramifications, the allegations have led to a boycott of Brian Wood that has lost him his credibility and support in the industry. Furthermore, Brooklyn comics shop Anyone Comics have publicly stated they won’t be ordering and distributing any comics made in conjunction with Brian Wood. Seeing an adaptation of his work so soon after this controversy is a surprising change in direction.
Both Hudson and Fowler have spoken publicly about the negative effect Brian Wood has had on their lives and the greater systematic problem he represents, with Fowler saying “his behavior is a symptom of a much bigger disease. A disease of silence, where you go along to get along. And you never say anything about your experiences because the harm to yourself and perhaps to others will be monumental. That’s not okay. And it has to change.” Along with alleged abusers like Jai Nitz, Brian Wood has become a symbol of systematic sexual mistreatment in the comic industry with men in the position of power having, in the words of Laura Hudson, “specifically sought out young, less powerful women and exploited and used them because that’s easy, and that’s what predators do.”