I’m pretty sure I took a punt on this title because I’d enjoyed Charles Soule’s run on SWAMP THING and a story about a presidential secret of alien life in the solar system sounded like fun. Looking back, I’m not sure fun was the end result, but it was certainly engaging from the point of view of the writing; for me, the art left something to be desired and I never really clicked with it.
A little under a year left of the run and the crew of the spaceship sent to investigate the alien structure known as the Chandelier have made contact with the aliens and, to give the series its well deserved credit, these aliens aren’t just Star Trek like people with pointy ears of different coloured skin – they are genuinely alien:
Problem is, the whole purpose of the aliens is to destroy not just Earth but the whole solar system. By the time the contact is made, the aliens are working their way to Earth and pause to ignite Jupiter’s core before siphoning off the energy.
Added to all this, back on Earth, and President Blades – ostensibly the focal character on the Earth side of things – has to deal with a message from the aliens laden with Biblical overtones. The aliens have agreed that a tiny number of people will be saved . . . 666 of them. Selecting those people is complicated by Blades’ predecessor who is looking to save his own skin.
Back with the aliens, their difficult ways of communicating prompts one of the crew to take drastic measures to be able to speak with the aliens in a way they can all understand.
LETTER 44 was odd for many reasons, not least the injection of the Biblical stuff into a story which initially was mostly science fiction with some espionage/conspiracy running through it. I think the strangest thing for me, though, was that even though it seemed likely that yes, the world was going to end around the final issue, I was still waiting for something to be pulled out of the bag, some deus ex machina thing that meant the world was to be saved.
Kudos to all involved for creating that feeling and then subverting it.