Letter 44 #1 Review
Review By: Rob Neil Gruszecki
After two terms of economic uncertainty, and war mongering, the United States, exhausted and broken, is desperate for a new leader. It has come in the form of the new President-Elect, Stephen Blades, a leader that won on promises of reform and opportunity that ultimately inherited a crippled nation with many dark secrets yet to be revealed. As Blades reads the outgoing President’s letter (Letter 44) to him, a tradition long held in the history of Presidential office, he soon learns that following through with much of his campaign platform may be impossible.
Situated 150,000,000 Miles above Earth is Clarke, a ship containing 9 of the planet’s greatest minds and special forces. The mission sending it into orbit was designed to investigate a potential alien threat discovered during Francis T. Carroll’s now completed Presidential term and hopefully protect the civilians of our planet from the most horrifying truth in known human history.
We are not alone
From Oni Press comes a new ongoing series from the creative team of Charles Soule (Swamp Thing, Thunderbolts, Superman/Wonder Woman) and Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque, chronicling the truth about alien life in the universe, the Oval office’s conspiratorial role in its cover up and investigation and the journey of a man who overcame great racial and social issues only to be confronted with entirely new and unexpected realities that will alter his term’s trajectory and the lives of everyone on Earth.
Multiple arcs running parallel weave smoothly in the first issue of Letter 44 as Blades makes his transition into office and 9 men and women orbit the planet in an effort to discover the intention of an alien construct developed in our solar system. A multitude of characters are introduced and drama already evoked with secrets kept from those in the White House and lies told to those who drift above in the endless reaches of space. We meet several fully realized characters with defined voices and intriguing stories that I am already excited to see unravel as the series progresses. The first issue of Letter 44 for the most part is posturing, setting the stage for an enormous story and developing its players within, but building enough tension and intrigue that doesn’t confound or leave the audience asking “what is happening?” but instead “what will happen next?”
Alberto J. Alburquerque’s artwork in Letter 44 presents an uneasy world where a few select humans in the know attempt to make sense of the unknown and is a good fit for the tone of the first issue. Most of the environments are simple as it takes place in a series of board rooms or offices but in sequences where Alburquerque is given an opportunity to design the interiors of a spaceship, the endless cosmos, or alien crafts we are given an exciting sample of the imagination and beauty he will bring to the series. His style is reminiscent of Paul Pope with anime influenced bodies and his character designs are each unique and instantly identifiable which helps tremendously in a series with such a big ensemble cast.
Letter 44 is the answer to any who have missed Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly’s Saucer Country since its early cancellation as it is a tale of political realism, social commentary, conspiracy, discovery, hope in a bleak world, truth amongst a sea of misdirects and of course aliens, the best ingredient to any fiction. Created with a palpable confidence and pride, Letter 44 is a series to follow in the months to come.
Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician, podcaster and Wednesday Warrior
Dear Ghost Factory. What Should I Read? Comic Reviews & Weekly Comics Round-Up Podcast at www.Geekstampede.com