Writer/Editor: Scott Chitwood
Artist/Cover artist: Randy Kintz
Colors: Garry Henderson
Letters: Troy Peteri
Publisher: Red 5 Comics
Price: $3.50 US
I rented one of the Call of Duty video games for the Wii a few months back. While I enjoy a good first-person shooter, I’ve always found that the guys who play those online war games get way too good at them, which makes the multi-player mode of such games a less-than-fun experience for more casual players such as myself. So while I have a general disinterest in such war games, I have to give the guys at Red 5 Comics credit for developing a comic book that explores the implications of the gaming generation on a military industrial complex that’s becoming more and more intertwined in technology in the 21st century. Writer Scott Chitwood examines the natural evolution of warfare and technology with the notion of a remote-controlled soldier. Artist Randy Kintz’s style is more in keeping with the grounded-gamer connection than the grisly nature of warfare, but it works pretty well, despite the lack of definition. Overall, Drone is solidly entertaining, exceeding its seemingly superficial, generic qualities with a good premise that’s intelligently executed.
Three friends gather around a computer monitor to see what one of them has stumbled onto: a live feed from a platoon of remote-controlled soldier drones, dispatched into enemy territory in Kazakhstan but controlled by experienced soldiers safe at home in the United States. The boys watch the drones in action. As a search mission for a noted terrorist comes to a close, the soldiers sign off back home, leaving a group of technicians to retrieve the drones for the trip back home. That’s when they’re at their most vulnerable, and the boys are forced to watch innocent people as they’re about to executed.
Randy Kintz’s art looks something like a cross between the styles of Duncan (Metal Men, The Great Unknown) Rouleau and Humberto (Runaways, Revelations) Ramos. Give the high-tech elements in the plot, I’m surprised Red 5 Comics went with an artist with a sketchy, loose style, but it does suit the gamer characters pretty well. I was also pleased to find that Kintz kept the designs of the drones simple. Sure, the weapons they wield are over the top, but the near-blank faceplates represent a utilitarian approach that would be in keeping with a military approach. Some of the action is unfortunately unclear (notably a drone’s close encounter with an enemy truck), and the sudden appearance (and immediate disappearance) of a spider-like tank detracts from drones. I also found that several characters’ faces are rendered inconsistently, but fortunately, the three main protagonists (the gamer guys) aren’t among them.
I was incredibly relieved that writer Scott Chitwood avoided the trap of having the gamer guys irresponsibly interfere with the remote operation of the drones. That’s where it seemed the plot was going, and I feared that such a turn in the plot would cast David, Mark and Phil in a reckless and unlikeable light. In other words, they would have come off as stupid. Conversely, they’re not written as though they’re prodigies or geniuses of any kind. They’re thoroughly average, allowing the audience to take part in the adventure and action as well.
Overall, the art and script seem to emphasize a lighter tone over the potentially more grave elements of near-future warfare, and it’s a valid tack for the storytellers. I found I grew curious as to what the end result would’ve been like had the subject matter been handled more seriously, in keeping with the war-genre elements of the plot. I suppose too dark a tone would’ve clashed with the gamer guys’ laid-back curiosity, but I also hope that future issues of this four-part series don’t treat the violence inherent in war too casually either.
Maybe what’s most interesting about this premise is the contrast between the two worlds that collide in the plot. On the one hand, we have the deadly serious and ugly world of a vital military operation and the collateral damage that comes with it. On the other, there’s the laid-back, slackers gathered around a computer screen to watch the action, initially ignorant of the blood being spilled. The soldiers controlling the drones are highly trained and perfectly obedient. The gamers are all about rebellion and lack of responsibility. The latter characters are forced from their fantasy world into the real one, and as a result, responsibility begins to flow naturally. 7/10
Note: This comic book is slated for release next week.
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