There are two kinds of Vertigo ongoing books. There’s the kind that becomes a classic, richly constructed epic of dark comic goodness. Think Sandman or Preacher. Then there’s the other kind of Vertigo ongoing, the kind that takes some interesting twists and turns but never quite sets the mature reader crowd on fire. As of its second issue, it’s tough to gauge which kind of series Saucer Country will end up being.
Writer Paul Cornell weaves strands of alien abduction creepiness and energetic, Aaron Sorkin-style banter deftly in part two of his opening “Run” arc. The story begins as a direct continuation from the first issue, picking up with Governor Arcadia Alvarado and her staff, who look and talk like they are straight out of a CBS primetime drama. Cornell lays down some good chatter in issue two, with sharp, snappy bursts of dialogue giving readers insight into exactly who each of the many characters introduced are. The story also hits some fun notes of genuine creepy horror. Violation, in one form or another, is a recurring theme and leaves the skin crawling a bit.
Sounds good, no? It is, except for when the pesky plot comes up. Saucer Country is a weird read. This is partly because thus far in the story the smaller details seem to shine more than the overall larger tale and also partly because UFO flybys, alien abductions, and diddling by little grey men somehow come off as more believable than the political aspirations of the main character. Like Saucer Country as a whole, the dramatic tension being set up around Governor Alvarado feels stuck in the middle of a see-saw, teetering between interesting and absurd. The strong pacing, dialogue, and characterization in Saucer Country serve as indicators that interesting will win the day, but by the end of issue two readers may still feel something more is needed to seal the deal.
Visually, the book is very solid. Ryan Kelly gives us clean art and a good range of emotions from the featured characters. He manages to make scenes set in executive limos and office desks look dynamic, and really lets loose when showing us glimpses of the invasive visitors pulling the strings. Guila Brusco provides standout coloring work here, really adding to the otherworldly feel of the story.
Saucer Country is putting a lot on the table in its opening story arc. The characters are strongly defined, but the situations these fast-talking political professionals and marginalized UFO journalists find themselves is still muddy. There is a good deal of mystery surrounding the core of this story. Personally, I’m hoping that what we have been shown so far will not end up being what we get as the ultimate premise of this book. Longtime Vertigo readers will likely have the prerequisite conditioning to take this ride, however new readers may be left wanting. Saucer Country is one to watch– this book feels like it could either become a crown jewel in the current Vertigo lineup or slam into the ground in a fiery wreckage of Roswell proportions.