Review: Letter 44 #7

I like this issue, but I also dislike this issue. It’s clearly a filler issue so that regular series artist Alberto Jimenez Alburqurque can perhaps get ahead on future issues? It’s not a bad issue, in fact it’s actually really good, but with every filler issue it breaks the flow of the story. You have to remind your audience what was going on two months ago rather than one month ago unless the filler issue somehow feeds into the story arc that will begin. I don’t particularly see how this issue can feed into the next arc since it’s an origin issue. Joelle Jones joins as the guest illustrator on this issue and that’s honestly enough of a reason for anyone to check it out. I’m very familiar with Jones’ style, but I wondered if she’d be a good fit for the series. She’s actually pretty amazing. Her style on this issue is different from anything else I’ve seen from her and showed that she’s a versatile illustrator. I actually forgot that she was the illustrator after the initial shock because it was so different. I don’t know if it was the addition of colorist Dan Jackson that gave it that extra flair, but it works and works well. I really just wanted to soak in Jones’ artwork, but unfortunately I don’t think she’ll be back for another issue unless there’s a follow-up to this chapter.

Well what is this issue about? It’s a flashback issue of sorts as it introduces two character’s lives before they joined the one-way space trip to spy on the aliens waiting just outside the range of our planet. The first character we meet is Charlotte. She’s in the Amazon Basin with her husband (lover?) and another colleague and about to be attacked by natives. She scans the tribe with her eyes to figure out what they’ve done to offend them and quickly deduces the problem based on observations. It’s pretty clever so I’ll leave it for you to read.

Letter 44 #7 CoverThe flip side of the story introduces Cary Rowan and I have to admit I couldn’t remember his character. He’s in Russia looking for diamonds in a crater with his grad student… illegally I might add. Eventually both characters are approached by a government man and given zero details on the job, but asked to consider. As time passes both characters are put in a situation where they say yes of course, but what’s changed that drives them into a one-way space trip?

The quality in the writing doesn’t take a dip or anything; it’s just that at this earlier stage in the story this background info on our astronauts isn’t needed. Really the part that’s interesting to know about is the seven years that the trip took, but even that seems unnecessary due to the way the story was started and has progressed. Unfortunately with this back story it does leave the possibility of visiting that timeline open for future issues.

Again don’t get me wrong this is a good issue, even slightly better than good with the art and story pacing, but I have to wonder how it will affect the overall progress of the series? Just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s necessary and with the high level of storytelling this series has had it really comes off as taking the easy road. Thinking about it some more, it seems like something a TV show would do in order to fill episodes.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Charles Soule Artist: Joelle Jones Colorist: Dan Jackson Publisher: Oni Press Price: $3.99 Release Date: 6/25/14 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital