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DMZ, the cynically-prophesising DC Comics-published Vertigo title depicting a United States left literally divided after a second Civil War, is the next comic book-inspired small screen project embraced by HBO. Indeed, the premium cable channel has brought in a prominent name in Ava DuVernay – who happens to have her hands full with DC film adaptation The New Gods – to direct the pilot.

An order has been made for the DMZ pilot, setting it for streaming platform HBO Max. The would-be series is under the purview of Robert Patino, who has been appointed showrunner and executive producer, bringing experience from HBO’s Westworld, along with Kurt Sutter shows Sons Of Anarchy and the short-lived The Bastard Executioner. Besides directing the pilot, DuVernay will produce via her Array Filmworks shingle, in association with Warner Bros. Television, with which she signed a multi-year deal last year.

As mentioned, 2005-2012’s DMZ – written by Brian Wood, who co-created the title with artist Riccardo Burchielli – was essentially a post-9-11 parable for the broadening political divisions in the U.S., especially under the context of the Iraq War and the country’s overall interventionalist policies. Consequently, the comic’s Second Civil War occurred after the rise of secessionist forces of the Free States of America, which, having formed in Montana, quickly spread, touting isolationism, leading to a bitter war that – amongst several other demarcations – left Manhattan as a DMZ (demilitarised zone) between the now-separate entities of the USA and FSA. Consequently, the comic series begins five years after said war, chronicling life in the eponymous DMZ.

Interestingly, while the DMZ comic tended to focus on the travails of male photojournalist Matthew “Matty” Roth, the HBO Max television adaptation will follow a female protagonist, likely (based on the description,) comic character Zee Hernandez. As the official logline explains:

“[DMZ] chronicles the harrowing journey of a fierce female medic who saves lives while desperately searching for her lost son. But as she contends with the gangs, militias, demagogues and warlords that control this lawless no man’s land, she becomes the unlikely source of what everyone here has lost: hope.”

This is the second television project for pilot director Ava DuVernay, who recently helmed the Netflix miniseries, When They See Us. She’s currently working on her upcoming directorial turn with The New Gods, adapting the seminal DC Comics otherworld mythology created by Jack Kirby, working off a screenplay by comic book scribe-turned screenwriter Tom King.

HBO Max’s DMZ is the second attempt at a television adaptation, with the first attempt going back to early 2014, during which Syfy was set for a version that was to be developed by Mad Men executive producers Andre and Maria Jacquemetton.

DMZ doesn’t have any kind of projected release window, but the pilot is set to begin production sometime in early 2020.

We’ll keep you updated here on HBO Max’s DMZ as the news arrives!

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