Title: Drifter #1
Writers: Ivan Brandon
Artist: Nic Klein
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: 4.5 / 5
“Maybe it was shrapnel.”
What an amazing opening line and full panel. I was intrigued right from the get-go.
Space-western/sci-fi-western/space-opera—whatever you want to call it, the genre is hot right now. And I certainly don’t mind one bit, ‘cause when you combine two of the best genres in all of fiction, chances are the story already has a good head start. Take the Man with No Name, put him in space and you’ve got a winner.
Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein’s Drifter tells the story of Abram Pollux, a stereotypical gruff, pilot-gunsmith hybrid who crash-lands on a hostile but not-quite-desolate planet. Within moments he’s nearly drowned, then shot by a mysterious assailant and then wakes up to a dozen different questions that go (mostly) unanswered. There’s certainly no shortage of story to build on here and it’s definitely enticing.
Brandon’s words are a fantastic joy to read and the dichotomy between dialogue and narration adds another brilliant layer to the story. He has a way of telling the tale that is so decadent and philosophical that at times I was thinking “Whoa this is one deep gun slinging tale.” The dialogue between most characters is rude and no-bones, while the narration is straight out of Camus. Maybe that’s too heavy for some people, but I’m fine with it; the writing is just that wonderful to read.
Klein’s art is, to be perfectly accurate, great. He gives us the barren desert we always hope for in a space-western full of unknown frontier planets, but spices it up with bright yellows, oranges and browns. The attention to typical sci-fi space metal is also well done, incorporating them in everything from spaceships to the town’s foundation to artificial limbs. It all works and it looks gorgeous.
We don’t really have much to go on with Pollux, other than he crash-landed and we are to assume he’s a bad-ass and wants everyone to know that he doesn’t care about much. So for me, the real standout character of issue one was Carter, the town medic and reluctant sheriff who is bad-ass but doesn’t care who knows it. Of course we’re treated to an early heated exchange between the two (mostly one-sided), which will no doubt be stretched out as Pollux continues his search for both his shooter and a way off the planet.
Drifter is a simple premise, but thanks to really beautiful art and some seriously pleasing and thought-provoking writing, it elevates above others that might be attempting to do the same thing.
Review by Brent Gladney