|"Drafted" #12 on sale now from Devil's Due|
“Drafted” describes the events that unfold after Earth’s population is conscripted to fight a galactic war. These aliens don’t recognize or care about the social or economic status of individuals, or the ethnic disputes that have raged between various groups for centuries. Overnight, everybody on Earth is rendered equal; all the artificial means and labels by which we often define ourselves are thrown out the window. So we’ve endeavored to make sure that we spent plenty of time witnessing the affects of this situation on people in numerous locales around the globe, with one particular “unit” serving as the prism through which we explore these events.
This unit is comprised of Kris Nelson, a paramedic; Raisa, an anti-Taliban rebel; Devon McNeil, a celebrated British psychiatrist; Audrey Martin, a gifted computer programmer from Vancouver; Preston Walker, President of the United States; and Gabriel Contreras, a convenience store clerk constantly struggling to support his mother and younger sister.
From the beginning, Gabriel and Walker have been our primary characters, and the relationship between these two very different men has been the most crucial one in the series. Separated by age, ethnicity, social status, and temperament, they had every reason to distrust each other—and in any other “normal” situation, their differences probably would have been irreconcilable. What they did have in common, despite all that has happened to them and around them, were emotional issues neither could relinquish.
In my own experience, I often look back on difficult times and find myself thinking, “Why the heck couldn’t I let go of that? Why did I keep acting like that, even with XYZ going on all around me?” We all struggle with these types of issues, so I really wanted to explore this very human tendency over the course of the story. Further, I think our ability to respond to and reconcile loss determines how we grapple with virtually every other emotional issue we encounter, regardless of circumstance—so that was a starting point for our entire cast.
Gabriel is a smart, considerate guy who’s a natural peacemaker—but who’s never been able to let go of his father’s death. He’s caught between the gnawing absence of a parent and the need to take that role himself—the inevitable and painful battle to shed boyhood and become a man. Walker—based in large part on George W. Bush—is the scion of a political dynasty who’s never been tested in his life, intellectually or emotionally. Because of that, he’s never developed a true sense of self—so despite his age, he, too, has never truly attained manhood.
By the end of issue #11—in which much of the world is decimated in a battle to repel the serpentine “World-Eaters”—Gabriel and Walker have forged a close relationship. Walker’s become a mentor figure to Gabriel, and Gabriel has given Walker someone for whom he’s emotionally responsible. These are roles that have helped them grow personally…but only to a point.
As we open issue #12, these two men must descend into the bowels of the Earth to destroy the worm-like invaders before they can plant their larvae.
Actually, before we really dive in, I want to say how awesome it was that Mike O’Sullivan, DD’s Senior Editor and paragon of Irishness, convinced John Paul Leon to do the cover to this issue. Not only is John immensely talented, he’s one of the industry’s true gentlemen.
Gabriel and Walker glide down into the darkness, accompanied by Hannibal, their cyborg taskmaster. (And who also serves as a colder, more aloof mentor to Gabriel.) Hannibal is taken out right away so that Gabriel and Walker are immediately left without their protector—alone in the dark with the monster (and their own demons).
Meanwhile, the small Isolationist resistance band known as The Untouched flees through the subway tunnels, their captives in tow. They are a fringe group who despise the aliens who drafted humanity, despite their curing of disease and technological gifts. The Untouched have kidnapped two of the three “Sons of Abraham,” religious leaders whom they consider to be race traitors. Both the Untouched and the Sons are meant to portray different facets of the human need to believe in a cause greater than any individual, and the danger of allowing that need to blind one to reality.
Hannibal—our alien allies’ greatest and most fervent warrior—holds onto the worm for dear life. Driven by the memory of the worms destroying his world, he will stop at nothing to end their threat once and for all.
This is the crucial scene in which both Gabriel’s and Walker’s character arcs come to a head. Both face death: one man faces his own, the other the crushing loss of a loved one. All the way back in issue #3, we’d established that Walker (like Bush) had lost his younger sister to cancer when both were children. A world in which a child can die a slow, painful death is a chaotic place in which justice and fairness are illusions. His entire life has been choreographed, his rise preordained, and he clung to this self-image as a way of trying to impose a measure of control over his environment—all the while living in silent fear that everyone knew it was a sham, that he had no substance. His relationship with Gabriel has helped him discover that substance, and so, when push comes to shove, he is able to accept his own mortality.
(It’s funny, as the series progressed, I worried we were creating an analogue of Bush that was far too sympathetic. The concept for Drafted was, in part, born of anger at our real-life President’s waging of war. But I tend not to view anyone, even someone I strenuously disagree with, such as Bush, as two-dimensional—all people are complex and our actions are motivated by many different things. I’d expected to skewer Walker/Bush for a longer period, but I found I couldn’t—as I put myself in the character’s shoes, and tried to figure out why he acts as he does, it was impossible to dispel a sense of sympathy.)
For Gabriel, this is a moment of supreme importance: in a sense, letting Walker die means letting go of his father as an emotional crutch. In this light, walking away from the closest friend he has in the world is a step into maturity…and prepares him for impending revelations.
The Untouched and their captives run smack dab into the last thing they wanted to see: a World-Eater cocoon. There’s a heavy theme of death and rebirth running throughout the story.
Gabriel comes face to face with the worm he’s been pursuing—a member of the alien species that threatens Earth, and on a symbolic level, the embodiment of everything he’s struggled against over the course of the series. His confrontation with this immense, unreasoning, implacable foe will ultimately determine the fate of his people—and is the final barrier between his own immaturity and adulthood. By the end of this issue, which is the end of the first act of our trilogy, the new knowledge he’s gained will have made Gabriel’s world far more dangerous—one in which his beliefs, judgment, and relationships will be tested in completely unexpected ways.
Writing this book has been a very interesting experience—Gabriel, Walker, Audrey, Kris, Raisa, and Devon each have a lot of me in them. (Occasionally in cringe-worthy ways.) And it’s been a fun challenge to try and straddle the line between sprawling sci-fi epic and small, personal story; I hope we succeeded more often than we failed.
I want to thank everyone who tried this book over the past year, and I hope that the end of this arc leaves you as excited to read what happens next as I am to write it. I also want to thank Jonah Weiland and CBR for giving me the opportunity to do this feature. Last but certainly not least, I want to thank Chris Lie and Rebekah Isaacs, our two primary artists for the series, both of whom consistently made me look better than I am.