“Fell out of the sky just to die here in the dirt.”
That’s the line that jumped out at me in Drifter, after the art that is. The first page of this book is beautiful. It’s nothing fancy but there is something about the art that pulled me into this book. Upon opening this book I was greeted with a full page image of a ship entering the atmosphere of an alien planet and from the image alone you know that this wasn’t a planned landing. Nic Klein’s art in this book is amazing. I’ll get to the story shortly but if you appreciate art in the slightest you could remove the dialogue and still enjoy the look of this book. As the ship is crashing through the atmosphere Klein brings us close to the action and puts us in direct eye contact with the man inside the crashing ship. In just that one panel you can see desperation and fear. I knew very early on this was going to be an easy book to get lost in.
Not only is the art worth talking about but Ivan Brandon tells a story that will keep you guessing from cliffhanger to cliffhangers. From the first couple of pages you would come to think this was going to be your run of the mill guy crash lands on an alien planet and has to survive alone until he can find his way home. You’d be wrong. Abram Pollux has landed on a planet that already has a human colony and plenty of problems of its own. Pollux has been on planet for 3 days, most of which were spent unconscious and recovering from a gun shot wound. In the amount of time he wasn’t unconscious he crashed, almost burned up on entry, came close to drowning and then shot. Pollux opens his eyes to a desperate settlement that is reminiscent of the old west. The settlement’s priest see’s Pollux’s coming as a sign from God and the Marshall/Doctor Lee Carter see’s him as trouble who can barely stand. The first thing Pollux asks for is his gun and then a bar. After a quick drink and a bar fight Pollux set’s out on his own only to be tracked down by Marshall Carter who is with Pollux when he makes a chilling discovery. His ship didn’t crash 3 days ago, it’s been lying on the planet for over a year.
Drifter continued to toss twists at me for the remainder of the book. As soon as I became comfortable in this alien world the ground would drop out from under me again. I’m a sucker for a good sci-fi story that takes us to a unbelievable place but saturates it with so much believability in the characters and situations that you forget where you are actually standing. Like ankle-deep in alien worm crap that you are harvesting so everything on the surface can continue to run.
Drifter contains multiple plot lines running through the book. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait a month between chapters to see where the threads lead and what twists were coming next. The twists continue with each chapter and each adding a layer of mystery to this already alien world. At times I wondered if all the twists would be brought together to conclusion before the final page of Volume 1. The only thing better than the cliffhangers in this book is the art. It has been a long time since I’ve run across artwork in a comic that has spoken to me like the art of Drifter. Nic Klein creates a world that is unlike ours in beauty but similar to ours in the drab landscape that the characters find themselves in. The facial expressions of the characters speaks more than the dialogue and the attention to detail is astounding. A bloody hand print on a rock behind a murder scene, the blue’s and green’s of an underwater crash site and the light of an alien sun shining over the settlement during an execution are just a few examples of moments that jump off the page’s of Drifter.
Drifter may be the finest science fiction comic I have read in years. I’ve always found science fiction to be at it’s best when it exposes the human condition in the midst of an environment that we don’t recognize. There are moments in our lives where we run into the dark pursuing a creature not because we know we will win the fight but because we know it’s right. Drifter illuminates the light that is trying to break through the darkness of us all by putting us in the midst of an unforgiving world where living with regrets may be worse than surviving without them. Even in a strange new environment rage, blood, faith, love and murder all remain the same.