LETTER 44 is hitting a smooth stride, with each issue truly feeling like a segment of a larger story arc rather than a done-in-one adventure. That stride also happens to be on a very upward-slanting path -- things haven't slowed down in the cleverness department, and the sense of intrigue hasn't started to wane. That steady churn of political drama down below and alien adventure up above keeps LETTER 44 feeling different and interesting every month, and we've only just gotten a peek at whatever's behind each setting's respective veils.
I feel like I'm learning things as I read this book -- it's not so much that Charles Soule is dropping science on us at every possible opportunity as it is that said science is always a vehicle for something super clever and plot-driven, which makes the series feel like a double-whammy of discovery.
And this issue? This issue puts us just on the brink of alien world reveal time; with little more to go on than the teaser at the end, that world is just going to get more and more fascinating as the weeks tick by leading up to the next issue. What even are these geometry-perfecting aliens, and how completely unlucky is the crew of The Clarke going to be?
The story is totally captivating me, but I'm occasionally jarred out of it by the heavy inking and jaunty, irregular angles on the characters' faces. I love the brush strokes and the deep shading and the wild angles on environmental stuff, but the pages would feel more smooth if the character art dialed back the stylized factor just a bit.
Once again, I am mystified by just how much intrigue Charles Soule can fit into a single issue, and I'm equally impressed by his ability to do so without action beats screaming off the pages. LETTER 44 is pacing like a champion, revealing just enough weird space stuff and just enough scandalous political stuff every issue to evoke a sense of forward movement that doesn't feel pushed. The book is losing me a little bit on the visual side, but it more than makes up for it by reeling me in with questions like "yeah, what IS going to happen with that whole pregnant astronaut thing now that things are just outside of critical mass?" All systems: fully engaged.