Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Demo #7: “One Shot, Don’t Miss”
AiT/Planet Lar
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Becky Cloonan

Set against the backdrop of the war in Iraq, Demo #7 easily could’ve become a heavy-handed sermon on U.S. foreign policy or pacifism. Instead, Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan deliver a touching story about a poor boy from New Hampshire forced to enlist in the Army to provide for his wife and baby.

Like the characters in previous issues, John Hatfield has an ability that sets him apart from everyone else: He’s a sure shot who never misses his target, a talent that brought him to the attention of the local recruiter. The military seems like the only choice for a kid who can’t even get a fast-food job. But when thrust into combat, John finds he can’t do what’s required of him; he can’t, or won’t, kill.

John’s torment over his decision, and its ramifications, is palpable and moving, intensified by Cloonan’s artistic choices. When John calls his young wife, Cloonan floods the panels with white space, providing a stark sense of isolation, and making John shrink under the weight of his news.

Although the story sidesteps the obvious political homily, it does tread into social commentary, with the soldiers looking like identical mannequins just off the assembly line, forced into the military by their economic predicaments. It’s not entirely subtle, but it’s certainly valid.

However, “One Shot, Don’t Miss” isn’t about social commentary. It isn’t even about John Hatfield’s special ability. (Wood’s story would be just as strong without the notion of “super powers.”) Instead, it’s about the choices we’re given, the situations we’re forced into, and how we cope with the outcome.

Demo #7 is in stores tomorrow.