Cover to ‘ET-ER’ #1. Art: Andrew Robinson/AWA Studios

by Lauren Fernandes. If there’s one reality we’ve been forced to contend with in recent months, it’s that everyone gets sick. It doesn’t matter what city, state, or even continent you live in. People, all of them, are susceptible to illness. Dogs, cats, birds, pigs—all of them can get sick.

Obviously, this means aliens can get sick too. And what happens when they do? Animals get veterinarians. Humans get doctors, and so do extraterrestrial life forms. A little cooler than your average doctor, maybe a little more calloused, but clearly someone has to take care of these alien travelers. Because the side effects of alien death can be a little more… dangerous. 

Jeff McComsey takes this colorful concept of an extraterrestrial emergency room, adding one part Men in Black and one part General Hospital to give us a colorful, imaginative plot for ET-ER’s debut chapter, “The Walk-ins.” Javier Pulido’s art utilizes dramatic yet simplistic character profiles, often focusing on just the eyes in a way that adds, in a fun and funky way, to the overall medical soap opera drama vibe without detracting from the obvious science fiction of the story. This balancing act of melodramatic moments and alien weirdness shows the natural success of McComsey and Pulido as a team, as well as their ability to walk a slightly campy line without it degrading either the story or the art. 

Pulido’s use of color is also notable. Solid swaths of intense yellows, reds, and blues are generally paired with somewhat softer purples, oranges and greens. This play of primary and secondary color palettes is so classic and so well done and so right for this book. The simplicity of the coloring makes each frame pop in its own right, emphasizing character moments despite a lack of detail in shading and texture. Nothing is overcomplicated, nothing is overdone, and because of that restraint the art stands out so well.

Dezi Sienty did the letters here; watch as his work becomes an immense part of the art. The lettering in ET-ER, sound effects especially, flows in a stylized way, in a perfect marriage with Pulido’s art. Sienty’s letters are an irreplaceable aspect of the book, one that keeps the pace as the characters nonchalantly tackle medical challenges and save the world. 

I think that overall nonchalance is one of the things that makes ET-ER interesting. The cast of doctors in this series, including protagonist Dr. Chen, all operate with such a desensitized efficiency. There are few moments where any of them truly emote. Thus, the Men in Black comparison—I kept thinking of Tommy Lee Jones’ portrayal of Agent K, of his deadpan reactions to weird alien guts, to tentacled baby deliveries, to imminent danger of the end of the world. That is the resounding attitude of Dr. Mobray and the other medical professionals of ET-ER. And Dr. Chen fits right in with them on her first day, with one shining difference. 

Dr. Chen brings some damn humanity to the table, right at the last moment. Because it is a line worth appreciating, I’ll quote her in full:

“I gambled that we aren’t the only organisms in the universe that need a little respect and compassion when we’re sick.”

With that one little line, she sets herself apart as a person who can connect her humanity and apply it to other living things—all other living things. That fantastic quality will set her up for a long career saving aliens, helping her coworkers, and changing the world. 

One elevator ride at a time.

AWA Studios’ ET-ER is imaginative and dramatic comics. It stands out now, when our world has been turned upside-down with illness, in its blunt, obvious assumption that everyone needs someone to care for them, that everyone is entitled to some respect and compassion. This flag is planted unapologetically, giving Dr. Chen and the other ER doctors spine and oomph that they would’ve lacked without. McComsey seems to have deliberately timed this moment of character development, because it landed right when I was wondering if there was more to the book, if there would be something to motivate me to read chapter two. 

There definitely is. 

AWA Studios / FREE 

Written by Jeff McComsey.

Art and Colors by Javier Pulido.

Letters by Dezi Sienty.

7 out of 10

‘ET-ER’ #1 is available on WebToons for free now.

Check out this 7-page unlettered preview of ‘ET-ER’ #1, courtesy of AWA Studios!