Letter 44, Volume 1: Escape Velocity by Charles Soule Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Letter 44, Volume 1: Escape Velocity

On Inauguration Day, newly elected President Stephen Blades hoped to tackle the most critical issues facing the nation: war, the economy, and a failing health care system. But in a letter penned by the outgoing President, Blades learns the truth that redefines “critical”: seven years ago, NASA discovered alien presence in the asteroid belt, and kept it a secret from the wo
Jan Philipzig

Feb 26, 2015

rated it
it was ok

President Obama vs. the Gigantic Alien Gun

[Though the book does not officially feature Barack Obama and George W. Bush, there can be no doubt that two of its main characters are thinly veiled versions of the two, and in this review I will thus for simplicity’s sake refer to them as Obama and Bush.]

On the eve of his inauguration, Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, receives from his predecessor, George W. Bush, the so-called Letter 44:
“Welcome to the job, son… I know you don’t

[Though the book does not officially feature Barack Obama and George W. Bush, there can be no doubt that two of its main characters are thinly veiled versions of the two, and in this review I will thus for simplicity’s sake refer to them as Obama and Bush.]

On the eve of his inauguration, Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, receives from his predecessor, George W. Bush, the so-called Letter 44:
“Welcome to the job, son… I know you don’t like me… You think I steered the country wrong. Lied to the American people, didn’t do enough to help at home while pushing us into wars we didn’t need to be fighting… But here’s the thing – your perspective changes once you get behind that big old desk. You need to know that everything I did in my two terms leading this nation was in its best interest. It all boils down to one essential fact: Seven years ago, NASA detected some sort of mining or construction operation in the asteroid belt… You all thought I was some asshole, putting the country’s soldiers in harm’s way in the Middle East… But I wanted the U.S. to have as many combat-veteran soldiers as we could get. I wanted a reason to pump money into defense… We need to be ready when those things come down here. And they’re coming. You can bet on that. We kept it all pretty tight – we didn’t want to panic people… Economy, social policy, all that crap doesn’t mean a damn thing anymore. Not when something’s up there building a gun… History will support my choices, and God willing, yours as well. Good luck.”

Well, that explains a lot, doesn’t it? Good old George W. had to sacrifice lives and resources in phony wars because his administration needed more combat-veteran soldiers; he was forced to push people into poverty because more money was needed for military production. Turns out he was just trying to protect us all from a gigantic alien gun located somewhere between Mars and Jupiter! It all makes perfect sense now! The government can’t tell us about this gigantic alien gun, obviously, because it would blow our little minds. Phew, and here I thought there was something wrong with politics these days. I should never have doubted the government – more power to them, I say, then I’m sure we’ll all be safe…

Fictional justification for government secrecy and corruption in general and war mongering in particular is not exactly what I am looking for in my sci-fi comics, so at least from an ideological perspective, Letter 44 Volume 1 did not work for me. The icing on the cake is the casting of President Obama as the buff and righteous quasi-superhero (with greying temples, to be sure) we all rely on to safe the world. He looks fit enough to take on those alien bastards all by himself, and in his opinion, any U.S. president should: “Teddy Roosevelt kept an actual bear in the White House. We need to get back to those days. All Presidents should have to prove their ability to defeat a bear in hand-to-hand combat before they’re allowed to take office.” Um… right.

The story’s ideological subtext is not my cup of tea, but there is a bigger problem: Letter 44 feels empty and stagy. Both the political drama and the sci-fi plot are designed to win the reader over with a bunch of spectacular plot developments, yet none of these developments really resonated with me simply because I could not relate to the characters affected by them. One of the astronauts approaching the alien construction site is about to give birth on the spaceship, for example, but I couldn’t care less because I am still waiting for her and her colleagues to come to life for me as characters. Not to mention the scene in which Obama has Bush kidnapped from his high-security ranch and brought to the White House just to ask him a few questions – that’s not thrilling political intrigue, that’s just silly.

So why still two stars? Well, it’s mostly wishful thinking. I have not yet given up hope that things will eventually start to fall into place, and that I will then look back mercifully at all this as a necessary if wearisome opening chapter. At the moment, though, those hopes are pretty slim, as I can see the plot taking only two turns:
a) The aliens really represent a threat, and we all rely on President Obama to save the day. Now that the pressure is on, the President learns to appreciate his predecessor’s unconventional yet effective methods.
b) The aliens do not represent a threat after all, and a righteous and peace-loving President Obama has to clean up the mess that his paranoid, tragically misguided predecessor left for him.

Neither path sounds very appealing to me. But who knows, maybe Charles Soule has a few surprises up his sleeve. I’m still on board for the second volume.

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Jeff

Oct 01, 2014

rated it
liked it

Shelves:
comix

Three and a half stars.

WARNING! BIG TIME SPOILERS ABOUND!

How scary can an alien be if you can figure out the cubic space he takes up with a math formula?

Take the formula for figuring out the volume of a cone – then take the formula for figuring out a sphere – take half the volume for the sphere and add it to your solution for the cone and you have your big scary alien. Oooh, Geometry gone wild, run for your lives. It’s a polygon! Hah!

Then: Laser beams! Ouch! Exploding stuff! Ouch! Death ray! Ouc

Three and a half stars.

WARNING! BIG TIME SPOILERS ABOUND!

How scary can an alien be if you can figure out the cubic space he takes up with a math formula?

Take the formula for figuring out the volume of a cone – then take the formula for figuring out a sphere – take half the volume for the sphere and add it to your solution for the cone and you have your big scary alien. Oooh, Geometry gone wild, run for your lives. It’s a polygon! Hah!

Then: Laser beams! Ouch! Exploding stuff! Ouch! Death ray! Ouch, ouch!!

I welcome our new geometric overlords!

Oh the letter! Well, it seems that the outgoing president left a letter for the incoming president, which says: There are aliens in the asteroid belt. We sent a ship years ago. They’re just reaching them now. It’s a secret. P.S. – The toilet in the Oval Office backs up.

The outer space orgy aspects aside, I found the political intrigue to me more satisfying than the sci-fi elements of the story.

The cover is sparkly and pretty.

…more