Title: Letter 44 Volume 1: Escape Velocity
Publisher: Oni Press Inc.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Alberto Alburquerque
What if we were to look at man’s first contact with extra-terrestrials through the eyes of someone other than a scientist or member of the military? Letter 44 by Charles Soule does just that by starting off this epic tale with a new man becoming president and learning of a secret space mission to investigate a large device somewhere between Mars and Jupiter. Letter 44 shows us how secretive governments can be while the same problems that are kept secret are extremely small when dealing with the grandeur of space.
Nine people set out in a ship they called the Clarke to investigate. The crew was made up of five scientists and four military personnel. Their entire goal was to investigate the large object and send back whatever data they could collect. The new president, meanwhile, must deal with the fact that two wars and countless lives had been lost in order to fund the mission as well as keep it safe. Corruption within the government seems to be a major theme. Letter 44 may be a science fiction story but it is not entirely fictionalized.
Letter 44 teaches us about humility. One of the Clark crew, Drum, sacrifices himself to save fellow shipmates because he saw himself as expendable. The president wants to end the pointless wars and let the American people know about the space mission and the secret weapon projects that had been started during the last president’s term. All of these seem honorable but Soule does a fantastic job demonstrating that humility can only go so far. Drum sacrificed himself while we find out a woman onboard the ship had a baby; his baby. The President is briefed about the consequences and how terrible they would be if he were to reveal the secret missions to the American People. Clearly, humility and sacrifice can be great things to look for in people but the respect that comes with them can end up backfiring.
Obviously, Letter 44 is a fantastic read. It is a wonderful science fiction thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. From realistic government problems to pondering what life visiting our solar system could be like, Letter 44 takes us on an incredible journey that will leave you wanting more. Unfortunately, we will have to wait to see what comes next.