Comic Review – Letter 44 # 1
Charles Soule has busted onto the comics scene with a fiery vengeance. His name is popping up all over the place. Last week I lauded his Superman/Wonder Woman # 1 as being one of the best books of the week and a huge surprise in my eyes. He’s slated to write a new She-Hulk book for Marvel and this week his creator-owned book from Oni Press, Letter 44 hits shelves. How does it measure up when compared to his other work?
I will say that the premise is interesting. The idea is that the incoming president recieves a letter from his predecessor outlining the fact that upon taking the job he learned of the existence of an extra-terrestrial craft within the solar system. This of course freaked the man out somewhat hard and his response was to send a team into space to intercept the craft. All of this seems like a great premise for a book. It could really sing if handled correctly. The stumble comes in this instance when Soule insists on making the book an obvious parallel to Barack Obama’s entry into the oval office. The departing president is a not-at-all veiled pastiche of George W. Bush and the book posits that the wars in the middle east were an attempt to battle-harden our troops in the event of hostile alien contact.
Revisionist history doesn’t work when you don’t have the stones to actually utilize history’s characters in a fictional manner. This book could have been really great satire if Barack Obama were the protagonist. But the problem is Soule is writing this book several years too early to utilize his term as president effectively. Better still would have been if Dubya had been our protagonist. Instead we get these effigies that don’t necessarily have the weight we would like for this story.
Now, the art is gorgeous and Albuquerque’s pencils on the page drawing the stars makes me pine for the days of Blue Beetle, but on the whole the first issue fails to live up to the weight of its own premise.