First, a little background. In general I’ve avoided “indie” titles in the past. I know, I know, I’m a horrible person who trades creativity for familiarity or some other similar BS. I have unapologetically enjoyed my Big Two superhero comics my entire life. Over the last couple of years I have really had my eyes opened by a few things: Criminal, 100 Bullets, Walking Dead (comic book, NOT the show, don’t get me started!), Invincible, Irredeemable and a few others. It’s forced me to broaden my scope and try things that I may not have considered before. This ideal is what led me to Saucer Country by Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly.
Maybe it’s because I’ve recently been watching the early seasons of X-Files that I missed back in the day, but I got a definite X-Files vibe from the cover. So with that in mind I sat down and started reading. Right off the bat I found my expectations were wrong. By the way, that’s a good thing. I’ve been reading comics for over 30 years and being surprised is a nice treat. The opening seemed to play into the X-Files expectation, classic images of aliens, two people awaking in a car with lost time and unexplained wounds. Then we find out that our main character is Governor Arcadia Alvarado and we are plunged into a few pages that are pure politics. Nothing ideologically specific, Cornell is smart enough not to make it “political” and alienate (pun intended) any potential readers. However Arcadia is a politician so we have to experience that world with her. Which is fine with me, I love a good political setting. West Wing was one of my favorite shows, and Cornell does a good job setting up how the political world is going to work its way into the plot and supporting characters. Then page nine comes at you and we’re introduced to a whole new and interesting bit of crazy.
Here we meet Professor Joshua Kidd, under scrutiny from the Harvard University Administrative Board about the book he wrote on UFO sightings. On this page we meet Professor Kidd’s…friends, and we realize this is going to be a little more than the usual alien abduction story. The Professor only gets one more page of screen time later in the book, but these teaser pages of his story are more than enough to intrigue this reader and leave me wanting more. Which is what a first issue should do, and this one does it in spades. In the opening scenes, Arcadia was found with her ex-husband, Cornell shows his bitterness over coming up with Arcadia and then being left behind when her career took off. I am a fan of coming into a good story without too much foreknowledge, so I don’t want to get too specifically into the rest of the story. I do want to say though, that Cornell has really hit a homerun in my estimation. Maybe because he is British and is able to take his influences and outsiders view of America and mash them together he comes to a mash up I would never have dreamed up and cannot wait to read. The good old sci-fi trope of Aliens, and the current political fodder of illegal aliens. There is a bit of a twist/revelation at the end that as a reader you see coming from a mile away. Its impact on the characters is what makes it work though. This one final page with two lines of dialogue, sets up ramifications for the three characters featured that I for one am excited to read.
I haven’t mentioned Ryan Kelly’s art yet, don’t take that as a knock on him. As I said before, I haven’t been reading a lot of indie/creator owned work, which is why I hadn’t really heard of him before. I think he lays out a page that is at once interesting and very easy to read. His storytelling is very effective. Something that is usually a pet peeve of mine, but he nails it as well as the expressions of his characters. That being said, there were a couple of panels that confused me a bit as far as the characters expressions until I realized that there may be something going on there that we don’t realize yet. This took me from not liking the panels, to being intrigued by them. I may be reading too much into it, but that’s something that sold me on the book. It sets up a lot and leaves you wanting more. So in the end it is very much like X-Files in that regard. A great bit of mystery is set up and in case I haven’t said it enough: I can’t wait to see where these guys are going with it.
About Article Author: Sean Stoltey
Sean Stoltey, writer, raconteur and retired rabble rouser, hails originally from California’s Central Coast but currently resides in Southern California’s BEAUTIFUL–San Fernando Valley. Screenwriter, Comic Book author, these are things he does because he’s too poor to be a Producer or Publisher.
Sean has been reading comics, watching movies, reading books and selling his soul (or at least his hearing) to Rock’n’Roll for as long as he can remember. He has been discussing and arguing about these things for almost as long.
So now he has come here to throw his opinions in your face as well and hope that, even if you don’t agree, hopefully you will enjoy them. For the record: Kirk was the greatest Enterprise Captain, Han was the only one that shot, Led Zeppelin was the greatest Rock band to walk the Earth and Keith Richards is the coolest undead person to walk the Earth. Coolest living people are my sons and my Mom and Dad. My Dad F—in’ rocks, and my Mom can kick your ass.