I got myself a Loot Crate subscription not that long ago, and this month’s crate came with a free digital comic from Comixology.
It was called Letter 44, published by Oni. Review of the first issue, possibly with some mild SPOILERS, after the cut.
It’s inauguration day in Washington D.C., and newly elected president Stephen Blades is reading the customary letter from his predecessor. He wasn’t expecting much. The outgoing POTUS had low approval ratings after a bunch of wars in the Middle East and a tanking economy, and Blades ran on a platform of ending all that stuff.
Yeah, if that sounds somewhat familiar, I am sure that was deliberate.
Then Blades learns what the outgoing guy was really up to.
It seems the wars were a cover. At some point during the previous eight years, alien life was discovered doing…something…in the asteroid belt. Blades’ predecessor was using the wars to create battle-hardened soldiers in case of invasion, and had dispatched a nine-person crew of astronauts, roughly half military and half scientist, to investigate the aliens. The astronauts are due to finally get a look at what these beings are up to in a day or so, maybe make first contact and hopefully avoid a war.
That’s a lot to dump on President Blades’ feet. He hasn’t been president for a full day, and he’s able to confirm that the letter is true.
From here, writer Charles Soule, who did some good stuff at DC and Marvel recently, splits the narrative between the astronauts expecting a potentially fatal contact with the unknown aliens, and Blades as he tries to find the right grounds to proceed. There isn’t much Blades can do, but he’s already looking to change the political approach on things.
Soule, joined with artist Alberto Jimenez, has set up a good first issue. The final glimpse of the aliens is mysterious and doesn’t answer any questions, and Soule is clearly interested in tying somewhat recent historical events and personalities to his story. Blades seems like a good guy, but it’s clear at least some of the astronauts are taking a cynical approach to what he has to say. Dissecting the story, for now, between the political and social ramifications on Earth with the more sic-fi elements in space is leading to an interesting story so far, and I know I’ll be onboard for the next issue for the time being at least.
I’m going to give this a solid nine out of ten asteroid belt mysteries. I’m reserving judgement for now until I’ve seen a few more issues, but this one is definitely worth a look.