Sunday, 29 June 2014

Letter 44 #7 Review (Charles Soule, Joelle Jones)


The first part of Letter 44’s second arc is, weirdly, a prologue issue. So the story writer Charles Soule and artist Alberto Alburquerque set up in the first book with the crew of the spaceship Clark heading out to face a potential alien threat while President Blades back on Earth deals with a conspiracy against him in his own ranks? That’s put on hold while we delve into a couple of the characters’ lives before they went into the Clark for their one-way mission. 

I’m really enjoying Letter 44 and think it’s a wonderful story from an enormously talented creative team but this issue feels like filler. I’m not really that interested in finding out that one of the crew won a Nobel Prize for her anthropology work and her subsequent miscarriage led to her marriage failing; or that another member of the crew is a raffish, Han Solo type whose financial problems lead to some reckless choices. I’m interested in where they are now, ie. on board a spaceship about to meet their fate on an alien vessel! 

And, to be totally honest, I don’t recognise either of these characters without having to go back and look through the first book, so its not like I was on tenterhooks waiting to find out why they’d accepted this suicide mission in the first place. 

But that’s just me - maybe there are readers of the series who’ve been dying to find out more about the crew and will love this issue. I’m all for character development but I would’ve preferred if Soule had done this in the story going forward, rather than pausing it and jumping back several years - unless he’s doing it because these two characters won’t have a chance to develop because they’re about to die? 

Alburquerque sits out this issue while guest artist Joelle Jones illustrates it. Jones’ artwork is really lovely, as readers of Helheim will already know, and I never noticed before how similar her and Alburquerque’s style is, so regular readers of this series won’t find the change too jarring. She’s clearly got range though as she’s usually drawing zombie barbarians and witches in Dark Ages Europe and this issue calls for her to draw realistic, 21st century stuff instead. Though the action moves from the Amazon basin to Siberia and she does a superb job with all scenarios. 

Letter 44 #7 is a well written comic, as most of Soule’s tend to be, and looks great thanks to Jones’ work; it just feels like an unnecessary addition to the series. It adds a bit more depth to a couple of unmemorable characters and little else. 

Here’s hoping we move forward to the present soon and catch up with the crew of the Clark when we left them at the end of #6, because that’s the reason we’re reading Letter 44 in the first place.

Letter 44 #7

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