October 4, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Comic Review: Letter 44 Volume 5

For the penultimate volume, the series backtracks and gives out backstories.

I made myself another resolution to finish a couple more longstanding, completed comic book runs this calendar year as I have in years past.  Not so many this year as last, but I did want to finish up Letter 44 even if the plot there aged in unfortunate ways given more current events.

Then came Volume 5, subtitled Blueshift, and I am a little surprised at what this one covered.

To be a bit clearer, the aspect of the plot that didn’t age well is that a former president, this one more or less modeled after George W Bush and presumably also a Republican, was secretly working to undermine his presumably Democratic and democratically elected successor, this one more or less modeled after Barack Obama.  Yes, nothing like that happened in the Obama years, but in 2021, well, there is a former president of that party going around and actively and publicly questioning the legitimacy of his democratically-elected successor with a core of loyal followers.  True, there are no superweapons in space here to hijack and fire on the Earth, but the point still stands:  that aspect of the plot aged poorly, and I don’t think writer Charles Soule could have come close to knowing that when he originally wrote this story sometime between 2014 and 2018.

However, there are still only two trades left after the last one I reviewed.  What could Soule possibly be doing with this one as actions both on Earth and in space may have doomed if not the entire human race but a whole lot of other aliens as well?

For the five issues included in here, it’s a series of flashbacks giving backstories to the different people on the ship that went out to meet the mysterious Builders, and then in a last issue, showing what it was the Builders did to accidentally doom humanity in the first place.  And since there are more than four humans on the ship, that means each of those issues covers two people at a time.

Honestly, the crew of that ship are a lot less interesting to me than Presidents Blades and Carroll back on Earth.  Maybe it’s because I read this series so sporadically, but I couldn’t even tell you their character names without looking them up.  To be sure, Soule is a talented writer, and he does manage to give each member of the crew of the Clarke a motivation and a reason to be there, even if there was some, shall we say, coercion in more than one case.  The mission was top secret.  How did the Carroll administration recruit some of these people?  And since it is a one-way trip, was there anything else that factored into the decision making?

However, since each issue covered two members of the crew, could it also be not a single one of them was interesting or developed enough to cover a whole issue on their own?  This wasn’t exactly a bad trade, but at the same time, it did feel like the one readers could skip without missing much if they needed to.  The alien issue alone felt vital since it actually was about what went wrong with what the Builders are actually doing.

Still, if the final trade does end with the destruction of the planet, I might not be that surprised in the end.

For this one,  8 out of 10 alien hot tubs. 

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