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Letter 44 #1 [Review]


letter44001Written by: Charles Soule
Illustrated by: Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque
Colored by: Guy Major
Lettered by: Shawn DePasquale
Edited by: Jill Beaton
Designed by: Jason Storey
Published by: Oni Press
Cover Price: $1.00

I have a “standing order” at my comic shop: in addition to my “regular” pull-list titles, pretty much anything priced at $1 or less (single-issues) also get pulled. Whether it’s “just” a reprint like the IDW Hundred-Penny Press books, or the Image Firsts or DC What’s Next or a genuine premiere or special issue.

So along with my usual stuff, got a handful of $1 issues today…including this Letter 44 #1. Looking at the cover, and it being from Oni Press (where I stick with DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, Dark Horse, and Valiant, typically) means this almost certainly would not have come to my attention, except that $1 price point.

Only once home and having already read my Valiants for the week, did I look with any interest at the $1 issues…and noticed Soule‘s name on this…a name that came to my attention during DC‘s Villains Month. So I figured this’d be a good issue to “start with”…and it pulled me in.

There’s a new president, who–upon taking office–learns that there’s a LOT going on that renders Earth-bound politics pointless except as a cover for actually preparing the country–if not the world–for potential disaster. Not one day into his presidency, this new president begins to see the tip of the proverbial iceberg as his life–and the way he sees the world around him–is irrevocably changed. The title itself comes from the letter–left from the 43rd president to the incoming 44th–letting him in on the Big Secret..

This very concept plays very well with thoughts I’ve (personally) had in the past, reconciling reality with “comic book reality.” Namely, that while we read about all these huge world-wide/universal threats in (primarily super-hero) comics, since the world has NOT been destroyed and the universe has NOT (that we know of) ended, there’s untold potential of what’s gone on to maintain that. For lack of better phrasing and explanation…this comic immediately fits into what is probably the core “conspiracy theory” I’ll buy into (conceptually, if not the specific situation).

In short…the story grabbed me, kept me reading, anticipating the final page reveal, and I’m very interested to learn what comes next. I was actually so impressed by this issue that–for something I hadn’t even known about seven hours ago–I emailed the comic shop to request it for my pulls, to make sure I don’t miss out on the next issue.

Visually, I’m not blown away by the art, but I’m by no means let down…as this is something I’d not heard of and had no frame of reference for, and is a new property, I have nothing to compare it to, so it just simply looks like it looks; it’s about humans, and they look human, if slightly stylistic and they’re obviously drawings (as opposed to some ultra-realistic/photographic-looking paintings or such, a la Alex Ross).

In short…this surprise issue does what any great #1 issue should do: introduced me to characters and concept, the premise of the series…gave me questions, built anticipation, reveals something of what’s hinted at throughout…and leaves me interested in continuing with the story. Not because it’s some cheesey cliffhanger but because I’m genuinely curious at further development of the characters and the world they live in. It also lets one clearly know the reasoning for the title itself…in this series’ case, the letter left for the new president that changes his perception of the world.

For only $1…I definitely recommend checking this out, if you like non-superhero stories, or want a change of pace. Worst case, you’re out 1/4 of the cost of another full-size issue; best case, you find a new title to follow, having experienced an issue itself and not just some hype.

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