When alien invaders threaten Earth, a handful of brave souls will usually emerge to take them on while the rest of humanity awaits the outcome with baited breath -- at least, that's how it goes in most sci-fi stories of this type. But what if everyone had to fight? What if everybody on Earth --regardless of sex, age or socio-economic background -- had to wage war? Writer Mark Powers and artist Chris Lie examine these questions and more in "Drafted," a new ongoing series from Devil's Due Publishing. CBR News spoke with Powers about the series, issue #1 of which is in stores now.
"Drafted" is a series about first contact and war with alien life forms, reminding some of the classic science fiction novels "Childhood's End" or Starship Troopers," but Powers instead too his inspiration from the headlines of today. "I'm certainly a fan of both novels, and I can see why readers would make those connections, though neither was on my mind in terms of the story's genesis," Mark Powers told CBR News. "I actually first blurted the idea out during a Devil's Due brainstorming session; it'd been a concept coming to a boil in my head as a reaction to then (and still) current events."
As the central premise of the series thrusts all of humanity into an interstellar war, "Drafted" is a book with a sprawling cast of characters, with most of the action in the series revolves around a primary group. "Everyone who's introduced by name will eventually have a specific part to play in the larger story-everyone," Powers said. "But our core cast is comprised of Gabriel Contreras, a convenience store clerk from Queens, NY; Audrey Martin, a programmer from Vancouver; Kris Nelson, an EMT from St. Louis; Raisa, an anti-Taliban rebel from Afghanistan; Devon McNeil, a renowned psychiatrist from London; and Preston Walker, the President of the United States.
"Another key group of characters will be the Sons of Abraham, a trio of spiritual men who will rise to prominence in the aftermath of the aliens' appearance.
"Issue #1 introduced us briefly to most of our core cast, and in issue #2 we begin examining them in greater detail, against the backdrop of the world crumbling around them," Powers continued. "We'll see that even as they deal with literally earth-shattering events, there are still issues unique to each of them that remain crucial to who they are, and who they're going to be. And at least one of them will see the aliens' appearance in an overtly positive light.
"I think they key point with all of our characters is that they'll be carrying the same issues with them into battle that we deal with on a daily basis. Even the President-who is quite obviously patterned after George W. Bush-will be examined and challenged as a human being with his own hang-ups, strengths, and weaknesses. In the course of the epic ordeal they face, they'll each have the chance to reinvent him or herself. But is that really possible? I want to play with that idea, as it's one I've asked myself many times during my life."
"Drafted" #1 depicts the arrival of "The Select," a group of aliens who appeared before the people of Earth to make us an offer we can't and won't refuse, if we know what's good for us. "Earth has been approached by an alien race that has demanded we join their crusade against an evil, predatory species that's hunted them across the galaxy. We must either join them, or be left to fall prey to the aforementioned race of marauders," Powers explained of the coalition. ""The Select" is what the aliens call their massive army, the forces they've gathered to combat the enemy that's hunted them across the cosmos. They aren't threatening to annihilate our world-simply stating that that'll be our fate at the hands of their enemies if we refuse to join their struggle. The survival of their species is at stake, and that, they believe, justifies extreme tactics. They don't have the luxury of investing a huge amount of time into negotiation."
The Select prefer to use what little time they have to turn humanity into a formidable fighting force. "They see us in the way we might look at an alien species: in other words, they view us as being all the same. The idea that person A occupies a certain social strata and person B belongs to another one means nothing to them," Powers said. "They recognize no social hierarchy. That's certainly something we'll be delving into in the series, because it has concrete impact on our characters and on the plot. There will be different areas of training and varying kinds of regiments and so forth-but at the end of the day, they view us as soldiers, period."
The first arc of "Drafted" will introduce readers to many of the series' supporting characters like Lori Walker, the First Lady; Stephan Adley, the National Security Advisor; Vic, a sanitation worker who's known Gabriel's family for some time; and Colin, Kris's EMT partner. "As the story progresses, each of these characters will move in and out of the plot, taking on roles of greater import," Powers said. And, like in any epic war story, there will be casualties in "Drafted." Powers confirmed some of the series' supporting players will find the spotlight thrust upon them because none of the core cast is guaranteed to survive.
Mankind may have home court advantage in the early battles, but readers can expect the action to spread into other locations as well. "Eventually, we'll be off Earth," Powers said. "But that's quite a ways down the road . "
Of the apparently grim tone of the project, Powers said, "There is a darkness to it, necessarily so because of the subject matter. We'll also be dealing with the social and spiritual impact of the aliens' coming. But we definitely want it to be first and foremost an engaging, suspenseful adventure story. I'm an optimistic person by nature, and I have a firm belief in humanity-it's just that I think it often requires great, great pain to overcome our weaknesses. The characters all have their own arcs, progressions that'll involve great anguish-the sort that not everyone can emerge from."
Powers is happy to have artist Chris Lie depicting all the action, adventure and anguish of "Drafted." "I love working with Chris," Powers stated. "I've known him for a few years, and when he expressed an interest in doing the book, [DDP President] Josh Blaylock and I were both very happy. I think the biggest thing Chris brings to the book is versatility, but he also brings a tremendous amount of passion and a unique viewpoint that's really contributed some great ideas. He's also an excellent designer."
"Drafted" is an ongoing series but it's also a finite one. "I do know how it ends-but I'm not sure how long it'll take to get there, just yet. That's why we're considering it ongoing," Powers explained. "We literally have enough material to tell several years' worth of stories-if of course, readers are interested enough."
Powers recommends "Drafted" to any reader who has an interest in science fiction or sweeping adventure sagas. He also advises fans of the series and those who are curious to check out the "Drafted" website at: theworldneedsyounow.com , where DDP will post character bios and designs, and lots of other interesting supplemental material for the series.
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