Heroes and Villains: ‘The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1’, ‘Letter 44 Hardcover Book 1’

It’s space and the supernatural in this installment of Heroes and Villains! Join me as I once again journey into the unknown land that is…comic books.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1
Ben Acker & Ben Blacker (W)
M.J. Erickson (A)
Boom! Studios

As far as new media goes, podcast are the current king of the hill. Everyone has one and not necessarily all of them are good. But when they hit…oh brother, you’ll become a cultural phenomenon the likes of which would make Beatlemania wish it had stayed in Liverpool.

All that being said, I have never actually heard The Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast but I knew it by reputation alone as a virtual titan of the podcast game. In my defense, there are only so many hours in the day in which I can consume new media and there is an ever growing list of podcasts I need to listen to.

This may be the most backwards introduction to a podcast that I’ve ever had. “Have you listened to The Thrilling Adventure Hour?” they would ask me. “No,” I reply, “but I’ve read the comic.”

I’m always slightly dubious when it comes to tie-in comic books. As a boy I was burned by the Marvel adaptation of Robocop 2…but this may be the adaptation that teaches me how to learn to love again.

The script by Acker and Blacker is razor sharp with dialog that snaps along a breakneck pace or some other cliched phrase a reviewer would use. Look, it’s great. The way the exchanges are written between characters is very much on point with the stage show/podcast roots of the comic book.

Erickson’s art is as light and fun as the story requires it to be and three were a couple of nice noir touches thrown in along with a sly movie reference that I really appreciated.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour was a lot of fun and it’s always cool to see how something translates into a different medium. Kind of like when a rockstar decides to become an actor? You know, like Mick Jagger in Freejack. Well, not exactly like that, but you get the idea. Go read this book and I’ll go listen to the podcast.

Letter 44 Hardcover Book 1
Charles Soule (W)
Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque (A)
Oni Press

In a rare instance of serendipity my Comics Trivia Daily desk calendar gave me this quote today: “In meeting between ‘discoverers’ and ‘discoverees’ history has always give the advantage to the finders…I feel that a tremendous issue was thoughtlessly taken out of the world form by a few individuals who have marked a clear trail to our door. My point is, who will come a-knocking – the trader or the tiger?”

That quote was from Jack Kirby on the subject of what was put on the Pioneer 10 space probe all those years ago. As we all know, the probe was actually blown up by the Klingons in Star Trek V many years later. But the question remains…what’s out there and will we find it before it finds us?

And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg in Letter 44, out now from One Press.

I absolutely love some good speculative fiction and Letter 44 was one of the best pieces I’ve read in a while. And when I say that it was one of the best, I mean that I plowed through the 300-plus pages of this collected edition in a single sitting.

The book centers on a newly elected president taking office and the letter left for him by his predecessor. Much to his surprise and disbelief he learns that not only do aliens exist but that we’ve already sent a ship out to investigate several years prior.

There’s a lot to love about this book. There’s an expansive cast of characters that all seem to get their own moments to grow and develop throughout the book. There’s complex political machinations. There’s believable science in the science fiction. This isn’t like one of those movies where they science-up a rocket ship inside of half an hour that can reach hitherto unheard of speeds. Nor is there instantaneous conversation across lightyears. 

The isolation felt by President Blades and the crew of the Clarke is a very real and tangible thing in the book and serves to highlight just how far we are from the future portrayed in Star Trek. Also, I had a little trouble suspending my disbelief over a president that was portrayed as an honorable, intelligent man and not a turd with a Twitter account.

I was suitably impressed by the work that Soule and Alburquerque did on this book and I was stoked to learn that there’s several more issues out there for me to track down and consume. If you’re looking to pick up this collected edition, it’s totally worth your hard earned scratch. The story is so densely packed it’s definitely got a couple of re-reads in it. 

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