Three years ago I was told about a store signing and writer’s workshop at my local comic book store. I was just starting to put my toe in the icy waters of becoming a comics writer and even though I wasn’t familiar with the writer in question, I went anyway because learning how to do what this man did was on my agenda. The workshop was fun and informative and he spoke directly to me a few times answering a few of my questions and basically being an all-around class act. Afterwards my friend Jeremy who ran the store suggested I pick up the indy title this man wrote called Letter 44 by Oni Press.
Charles Soule proceeded to impress me with that book which then got me interested in other books that prior to his writing them held no interest for me.
First though, he killed Wolverine.
I don’t know if I’ve quite forgiven him for this yet. I know it wasn’t his decision but he was the facilitator of it and while it was a great story and a good death, as someone who started his foray into a life-long romance with the X-Men and Wolverine in particular, I still have feelings of doubt towards Death of Wolverine. As I mentioned before, he peaked my interest in other books and characters that I would probably have never picked up if he hadn’t been writing them. I never cared much for the Inhumans yet he brought them to the forefront of the Marvel Universe, gave them a huge starring role in the 616 and gave voice to the man who could destroy mountains with a whisper, Black Bolt. He put Daredevil in my crosshairs and what made this book even more interesting to me was that Mr. Soule was and to my knowledge still is, a practicing lawyer writing a book about the vigilante blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen. He is currently writing the new Astonishing X-Men series which as I mentioned before is my first true love in comics.
This morning after grabbing a stack of my un-read books from the past month or so I found the latest two issues of Letter 44 at the bottom of it. I had heard that this book was ending but I didn’t remember what issue was to be the last. Issue 33 was a good read and pretty much standard fare. On picking up issue 34 and opening it to the first page I was hit in the face with the realization that this was the very last issue.
If you’ve never read Letter 44, in a nutshell it’s about how the new President of the United States receives a letter from the previous President (as is customary) letting him know that out in space right past Mars there are aliens building a giant something. This fact is unknown to anyone on the planet other than a small handful, and a ship was built and a team was sent to investigate what could possibly be a threat to all of humanity. If you haven’t read this series I strongly suggest it.
So in picking up issue 34 and opening it to the first page I saw what I immediately guessed as a page of Charles Soule himself sitting at his computer writing the last issue of the book I was currently reading. The entire book he speaks as himself as if he was just a writer in the Letter 44-verse this entire time and is coming to grips with his own mortality. It’s an extremely touching and personal inside look at this writer that I have to believe to be a complete work of non-fiction inside a fictional story. Inception indeed.
I continued reading and this issue was not only a testament to Mr. Soule’s writing ability, but a love letter of sorts to this book he so clearly has invested so much of himself into. At the end of the book I came away with two things: A ridiculous case of the feels and the knowledge that this wasn’t the last issue of this book, it was his swan song. There right after the last page was the advert for issue 35. That right there hit me in the chest more than anything as this writer had me convinced that this was it. The love letter he wrote was actually the perfect ending to the series for me. As I think about it I can’t think of any better way to have ended this series yet here we are with another issue on its way. While I don’t know if the next issue will have the impact on the series that this one had to me, I have no doubt in my mind that it will finish this story and end this book.
As I look back on my own journey of making my way into the comics field I see where writers such as Charles Soule made a huge impact on my work whether I realized it at the time or not. While I have attained that goal to some small degree and still working towards my ultimate goals I will always attribute a part of that drive to Mr. Soule for doing that which millions of us only aspire to. He’s one of the bars I set for myself and while that bar is set extremely high, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing to get there due to one random meeting with the not-blind lawyer of Marvel’s kitchen.
Thank you Sir!
P.S. In only discussing Charles Soule and his writing I am in fact doing a disservice to series artist Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque. His art on this series was, is and will always be exceptional. This issue and every issue of this book he has drawn is no exception and gives the book the unique feel and style that makes it a highly recommended addition to anyone's comic collection.