This is a difficult issue to talk about. There’s so many good moments and possible spoilers that I’m just going to throw that out there to begin with. There may be spoilers. It’s an important issue in the series and if you’ve been reading it then you likely know what I mean. Here’s the crazy part, if you’re a new reader I would whole-heartedly recommend you jump on with this issue. I know that seems strange, but really the way that Charles Soule has constructed this issue it’s possible to get caught up on everything going on in the series and still get all the enjoyment as everyone else that’s been reading from the beginning. This issue kicks off on the spaceship. Our two surviving crew members from the asteroid trip have returned and they’ve brought with them a gift… the drill bit thing that nearly killed Gomez. Pritchard wants to see Charlotte as we know she gave birth in the last issue. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. A baby in space is an interesting concept though. Something a lot of people don’t know is that astronauts usually suffer from loss of cartilage on their joints upon their return to earth. Knowing that I couldn’t help but wonder how a baby would be affected by that or really anything else from their birth in space. It’s a crazy concept and I wonder what Soule will explore with it.
The bulk of the issue takes place with the President and former President meeting for the first time. There’s a great scene between the two men in which they feel each other out. The former President pretends to be innocent even though it’s clear that he’s been building towards becoming President again when the aliens do attack. The current President pulls a play out of his handbook and leaves him Letter 43. I’m not going to say what’s in the contents of the letter, but it’s some of the best narration since the original letter in the first issue.
Charles Soule is writing a lot of comics right now, but for what it’s worth this is his best series. There are a lot of fans of his DC and Marvel stuff and so if you like that I would recommend you checking out Letter 44, because it’s better. His command over the plot is masterful. Sure you know what’s going on, but only because he’s leading you by the nose. I couldn’t even begin to guess at what’s going to happen in the next issue, but I know that Soule will deliver the goods. Usually when a book has too much dialogue or narration I space out (pun not intended, but now it is) because it starts to feel unnecessary. Here though, you should latch on and crave each line because it’s that’s juicy and important to the plot.
If you don’t like Alberto Alburquerque’s artwork on this series then you’re crazy. He’s a commanding force behind the storytelling of this series. The narration and dialogue from the characters relies on Alburquerque’s distinct facial expressions. He brings emotion to every character and every scene, be that joy at the birth of a baby and the return of their remaining crew members or the heavy burden that the President feels having to keep them out there instead of bringing them back home. All the intensity of this story comes from Alburquerque and hopefully people realize that.
This was a good week for comics, at least for me, and Letter 44 was one of the reasons for it. This is the best series Oni is publishing right now and it has fierce in-house competition. The Sixth Gun alone is enough to give it a run for its money, but then there’s The Auteur as well. I’m pointing both of these out because I still think that Letter 44 is the best comic Oni is publishing. Check it out, even if you’re jumping on with this issue. It’s worth it.
Writer: Charles Soule Artist: Alberto Alburquerque Colorist: Dan Jackson Publisher: Oni Press Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/23/14 Format: Print/Digital