REVIEW: Letter 44 #3

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Some books, as I’m reading them, just scream out to me that they must be reviewed! I always love a surprise, and Letter 44 #3 is actually chock full of them! I just HAD to share about this book, so here goes!


LETTER 44 #3
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque
Publisher: Oni Press
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in LETTER 44: How do astronauts have sex in space? Relationships among the Clarke crew are explored, while a signal from a mysterious asteroid provides clues to the nature of the alien presence in Earth’s solar system. On Earth, intrigue deepens as one of President Blades’ closest advisors suffers a savage attack!

CHARLES SOULE IS ONE OF THE BEST WRITERS IN COMICS TODAY

I discovered Mr. Soule’s writing kind of late in the game. The first story of his I read was Strange Attractors, a fascinating study of the “soul” of New York City. Then he took over Swamp Thing, admittedly a tough job since he was following Scott Snyder’s run on the title. But I really enjoyed his storytelling there and on Red Lanterns. His writing on Superman/Wonder Woman is terrific as well. He’s also scripting Thunderbolts for Marvel Comics, so he gets around!

LETTER 44 HAS HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

So, along came this comic he was writing that I hadn’t heard about called Letter 44 printed by Oni Press, one of my favorite comics companies. I dove in feet first and wasn’t surprised to hear rumors that this book is being considered for a television show.

What’s this comic about? Here’s the general description: “There’s something up there. As newly elected President Stephen Blades reads the letter left for him in the Oval Office by his predecessor, he learns this stunning secret: seven years earlier, NASA discovered an alien construction project in the asteroid belt. A crew of heroic astronauts was sent to investigate, and they’re nearing the conclusion of their epic journey.”

The story takes place in several locations, including the Clarke, the vessel the astronauts are journeying in, to the president and his staff and wherever they go. It’s called “Letter 44” because that’s how the message left for Blades by the previous president is identified.

In this third issue, President Blades, who seems very similar to President Obama in regards to his accomplishments, has now been in office for about two months and is frustrated that he hasn’t been able to implement his agenda as much as he wants. His chief of staff wants him to go public with the Clarke and its mission, which Blades is now considering.

One of the best things in this comic is that it shows how life on the Clarke continues on the ship. Some folks have paired up while others are left “out in the cold” regarding relationships. In fact, we see how intimate some of the crew have become.

The biggest surprise happens at the end of the book when the father of an apparently average family dines in an expensive restaurant where many important government officials are eating. When that father goes to the bathroom, he finds someone there and ends up talking with that person. What the father does next was a HUGE surprise to me. You just have to buy the comic to find out what happens! I have to know what in the world is doing on here, so I’m already looking forward to the next issue!

THE ART IS GOOD AND MATCHES THE STORY

Mr. Alburquerque’s art is kinetic in its feel, but at times sketchy. However, it didn’t distract me from the story. It’s very clear what is going on and who is who, so it does work well with Soule’s script.

My favorite sequence was the final one in the restaurant. What appears to be an average meal is illustrated perfectly, and I was pulled in to what was going on even more than the rest of the issue. I was shocked! But hey, I was already deeply involved!

BOTTOM LINE: LETTER 44 IS A COMIC YOU MUST READ

I’m gripped by this comic! I often feel that comics work better on “longjohns” superhero stories, but Letter 44 is powerful and dramatic. As someone who lives just outside of Washington, D.C., I find the various locations and tones accurate to what I know of how government functions in the national capital city. This might actually happen, something that creeps me out!

I often think one of the best compliments that a comic can receive is that it would work on television or in the movie theater. Honestly, this could very easily be an hour of TV as engaging as 24 was. It’s that good.

Whatever you need to do to read this comic, do it! Check your local comics shop, go online to comixology.com … whatever it takes! I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I have! Get this book!