Comic Review: Drafted #1

Drafted #1
Written by Mark Powers
Art by Chris Lie
Colors by Joseph Baker
Letters by Brian J. Crowley
Devil’s Due Publishing
Cover price: $3.50; On-sale: Sept. 12, 2007

In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. — President Ronald Reagan in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Forty-second session, September 21, 1987.

I’m one of those sore-headed skeptics who have never really believed an alien invasion would unite humanity.

I always thought if aliens attacked, half the countries on the planet would be scrambling to make deals with the invaders. Some groups of religious fanatics (and ALL religions have them) would welcome the end of the human race as “divine retribution” or “final judgment.” Others would waste valuable time blaming the government for being ill-prepared or the education system for not giving us the tools we need to stop invaders or even video games and hip-hop music for creating the kind of culture that would make an alien invasion possible.

In short, I don’t think a global invasion crisis would necessarily bring out the best in people. But the new comic book series Drafted, could make me change my mind.

Writer Mark Powers offers a grim fable of aliens who show up with an ultimatum: join them in fighting another group of aliens or be annihilated.

Aliens showing up and making take-it-or-leave it demands is hardly a new concept. It is the basis of movies like The Day The Earth Stood Still and books like Childhood’s End. But Powers skillfully pulls you into the story by focusing on how the invasion affects both common and uncommon people. We see events unfolding through the eyes of a New York store clerk, a Vancouver office worker, an Afghanistan rebel, an EMS worker with cancer, and a U.S. President who somehow thinks the invasion is a way to fulfill his destiny.

Powers is a compelling writer. He blends these diverse characters like a master bartender making one of those tropical drinks that tastes like pineapple juice and hits you like a college linebacker trying to go pro. In a few short panels, Powers makes you care about his characters and how they will react to the invasion. It’s been awhile since I was instantly hooked on a series, but Drafted #1 made me want to read the next issue immediately.

Then there’s the art by Chris Lie and Joseph Baker that alternates between the common and the incredible. My biggest complaint about current comic book art is that few are good at conveying facial expressions these days. Most comic book characters only have two emotions: passive and angry.

But like classic cinematographers, Lie and Baker infuse their characters with a wide range of emotions from bored to terrified to determined. Their art fits Powers’s story perfectly and enhances it the way all good comic art is supposed to do, yet seldom does anymore.

At the core of Drafted is an essential truth — the only thing that will save the human race from extinction is a fundamental understanding of our own humanity. Once we come to understand that as human beings we are basically alike and stop working so hard to be ideologically apart, we might just make it as a species. This also isn’t a new concept, but it’s not one we’ve been eager to embrace.

Drafted gives us a fable that is both entertaining, hopeful, and urgent. If our future on this planet is going to be determined by people with the strength of character presented in Drafted, it might be a future we can all live to enjoy.

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