Thursday, 31 July 2014

Letter 44 #8 Review (Charles Soule, Alberto Alburquerque)


After the dip in quality that was the weird blip of the last issue, Letter 44 is back in the present and roaring! The war in Afghanistan is turned around following President Blades’ authorisation to use the secret tech America has been developing to combat the possible alien invasion. Meanwhile, back on the Clarke, one of the crewmembers, Gomez, appears to have developed a psychic-esque link with the Chandelier (the alien mining vessel) just as its completed its construction. Also, will the Chandelier prove to be a mining tool or a weapon of cosmic destruction?

Reading an issue of Letter 44 is like catching an episode of your favourite TV show – Charles Soule effortlessly pulls the reader into the world of the story and holds on tight until the end. It’s like if Breaking Bad were a comic. The pacing is terrific too, so that events are playing out in a way that’s neither too fast or too slow. Things are definitely building but not at the expense of underdeveloped characters or half-baked plot – it’s perfectly measured. 

Both storylines – on Earth and in space – are as compelling as each other. Blades’ administration is becoming more daring and exciting as Blades takes more risks than his Bush-esque predecessor, while life on the Clarke is equally fascinating as we see how the new baby, Astra, is adapting to life in deep space, and how the crew are preparing for first contact.

Alberto Alburquerque’s back on art duties and he brings his usual A-game to this comic. He’s comfortable with drawing military operations in Afghanistan as he is a medical exam on a spaceship – the guy’s range is formidable and his imagery is always transcendent.

Eight issues in and Letter 44 continues to impress – it’s as fresh now as it was when it launched and, as the cliff-hanger finale on the last page proves, is only getting more exciting as it goes on. #8 is another wonderful issue in this great series!

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