LETTER 44 is the story of President Blades, and how he's handling newly-revealed intelligence regarding extraterrestrial activity and a top-top-secret aspect of the space program. LETTER 44 is also the story of the crew out "in the field," risking their lives to push the boundaries of human space exploration and contact with alien species. They're deeply connected, but tonally different narratives, and each issue of LETTER 44 feels much larger than a normal comic book.
In a delightful inversion, considering that the book's premise involves fictional and presumably far-fetched situations, LETTER 44 is extraordinarily rational. Charles Soule, via Dr. Portek, delivers a wonderfully on-point dissection of how extraterrestrials might interpret and interact with us, and the analysis of the Clarke's sensory equipment failure seems perfectly reasonable and scientific. Equally rational: the team's agreement that human preconceptions aren't applicable to alien tech. This book is just so smart, so even if the only action we've seen yet is a weapon misfire/field test, it's an enjoyable wait.
And, speaking of that wait, there's a compelling reason for the story to take its time playing out -- the one-way nature of the Clarke's trip. Soule tees up an emotional hook right away, and the baby on board is icing on the tension cake. Surely they'll seek out an alternate fuel source...right?
There's a lettering/design decision that is a hitch misleading. Speech balloons in the space scenes are lightly outlined in bright colors, which initially appeared to be a means for helping readers know which (identically-dressed) astronaut is speaking, but now seems random. As far as I can tell, the colors don't correspond to dialogue sentiment, either.
LETTER 44 tackles sci-fi and political intrigue with equal fervor, and the melding thereof is`shaping up to be an emotionally engaging and intellectually interesting series. There's no shortage of tension -- here on Earth or millions of miles above -- but the action is playing out with deliberate precision. This slow build, unfolding in tandem in the White House and aboard the Clarke, makes for a captivating new series that belongs on more pull lists.