Continuing the Alien Invasion story from IDW Publishing, Saucer State #6 picks up the pace and sets itself a standard for 2018. Our contributor, Darryll Robson, takes is a monthly trip down the rabbit hole to see what’s on offer.
Starting the new year with a Bang!, Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly push their alien conspiracy story into new directions and even get the Russians involved. This issue is a shocker which, considering what has come before, is saying something. There are many balls up in the air, but Cornell and Kelly seem to be in complete control
The Presidents tight circle of friends are spread far and wide, each uncovering new parts to the puzzle.
Chloe and the Professor are meeting up with a seemingly crazy science fiction writer, Jeff Winnemaker who may just hold some of the answers to what’s going on.
Astelle is not having a good day as she goes from the frying pan into the fire. Luckily someone is looking out for her. Or are they?
Michael has woken up from his drug-induced dream state to discover he hasn’t made any friends but has he learned anything of value?
Meanwhile; the President herself has arrived in Russian to meet with President Putin.
It’s all happening at once, the tension is building, and not all the confrontations are going to end well.
Each issue of Saucer State, and Saucer Country before it, has been somewhat exposition heavy. It’s the nature of the conspiracy beast; talk is all most conspiracy enthusiasts have. This latest issue is no different in that respect. However, there is also a noticeable injection of action. The question itself opens with a dramatic car accident and doesn’t lose pace from there on. Cornell has spent the last five issues setting the scene, building the tension and it’s within these pages that the payoff starts to come. There is an authentic sense that the characters are starting to get somewhere; are making headway into the mysteries of the series.
A point has been reached where there isn’t any going back, and Cornell hammers this home by putting the characters in situations which are massive, even for this kind of story. Most obvious of these is the meeting of the Presidents, using Putin as an actual character in the comic is a bold move but also logical. At every turn, Cornell has tried to ground his Alien Invasion story, and by using real-world figures, he is giving the narrative a hint of believability. Putin isn’t the only real person in the comic, and the way these people are woven into the plot with a combination of flashbacks and real-time events would impress Oliver Stone.
There is a documentary tone to the way that Cornell is telling the story, reminiscent of conspiracy films and TV shows, and the truth is mixed up with the lies to such an extent that it is so difficult to know what to believe. This confusion is helped out by Ryan Kelly’s realistic art style. If this were drawn in an over the top, tights and cowls type style, then the reader would just accept everything and let so much of it was right over them. The outlandish is recognized in those type of comics, so you don’t try to read into anything. But Saucer State is portrayed with a standard look, a realistic visual style which makes the more outlandish or violent moments that much more shocking.
And there is so much of the story that is told second hand, from sources who are unreliable or have agendas of their own. Each issue layers on more and more possibilities that the Truth becomes a muddy lake the reader can’t see into however some incidents in this issue stand out as unusual and therefore give weight to certain parts of the story. This is the main strength of this point; Paul Cornell is highlighting elements of his narrative for the reader and saying “take note of this over everything else.” This issue out of the series is the hardest hitting and makes the most significant impact; that has to be for a reason.
There are a style and tone to Saucer State that won’t appeal to everyone; it’s a slow burner that relishes in a conspiracy and the mechanics of that mysterious world. Cornell’s writing is fresh and full of humor and Kelly’s art is detailed and engaging, and this alone will keep the majority of readers invested in this title to the end of the series. And issue 6 is a game changer; after this nothing is going to be the same for Arcadia and her inner circle.
Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson, but he does remember to write more about comics on his website comiccutdown.weebly.com