Everyone knows that achieving a certain level of power (say, becoming President) means you get access to top-secret secrets; the kind of things that make people change their minds about the way the world works. Charles Soule and Alberto Alburquerque take this concept and run -- er, rocket -- with it, going past Earthly expectations for conflict.
And conflict there is, though we've only seen the first tease of what lies behind the curtain. Even if the last page had been empty space, the book would've been rife with tensions of the "how do we handle this?" variety, both for the astronauts and the new President. That it wasn't empty space gives us even more promising narrative paths, and I'm excited to see where Soule and Alburquerque take it. They've given us the start to a stew of human drama (on Earth and in space), human-alien relations (whether they're hostile or diplomatic), and pure survival against the vast, harsh environment of the asteroid belt, and it's fantastically unpredictable in just the right way for a first issue.
LETTER 44 was previewed at San Diego Comic-Con, but even if you picked up a copy, it's worth pulling for how polished and designed it is in final form -- Guy Major's colors take the art to a new level, and there's so much nuance and tone that's missed in a black-and-white book that wasn't designed that way.
Politics irrespective, characters that are ultra-close analogues to real people jar my suspension of disbelief. I like fake Presidents to be, well, fake -- renumbered, rescandaled, rebranded, refaulted; not just renamed. It's done well with Blades, but not so much with Carroll, and the letter portion of the issue, minus the space bit, left something to be desired.
On a visual note, I find that some of the faces and necks are too lined for my taste. Certainly, these are stressed-out people, but somewhere between inks and colors, the Joint Chiefs could collectively keep a Botox clinic operational.
I've always wanted the excuse to say "I'll buy that for a dollar" in a review, and now I have it; Oni priced LETTER 44 out at one dollar. It's hard to ignore such an accessibly-priced issue, and even harder when it's a cleverly concepted book coming from such a talented team. LETTER 44 is a well-executed book with a fresh concept, and did I mention that it is one dollar? It's a promising series with an excellent entry point; seek this one out.