Comic of the Week - Saucer Country
I remember when M. Night Shamalyan’s Signs came out, up until the end, I was thinking the twist was going to be that the aliens were some kind of mass hallucination with the collective unconscious bringing a myth to life. To this day, I think if it had gone that way, it would have been a brilliant movie, exploring the concepts of myth, urban legends and belief and how they influence and are influenced by reality. Unfortunately, Signs completely fell through its plot holes and is the first step in Shamalyan’s descent. But I digress. The point is, Paul Cornell’s Saucer Country #6 indicates that this series, which gets better with each issue, is exactly what I hoped Signs would be, but better.
The series started as a mix between X-Files and West Wing, but with each issue, it’s developed into something much deeper than an A meets B mix of previous concepts. This issue, while in continuity and still moving things forward, works as a kind of stand alone, going over the history of UFOs and the various mythologies that have grown out of it. Rather than one neat, cohesive narrative of where aliens come from, this is a history filled with contradiction and constantly changing details. Everything from the Bible to faeries to Stephen Spielberg comes into play. What’s fascinating to me here is that Cornell points out how the myth influences art and art influences the myth in a give and take that only further conceals the possible reality. So, movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind could be based on a real event, but also influence further stories about aliens. So we’re left with a cosmic chicken and the egg situation. Where this ultimately goes in this series, I can’t wait to find out.
This is heady stuff and while the issue is a bit wordy, I was totally fine with that. There’s a lot of information here, but the cutaways to our characters reacting to this presentation break it up nicely so that it’s not overwhelming and keeps it all in context with the story. Guest artist Jimmy Broxton does a good job giving us snippets of some of the key moments in UFO history. There are several different depictions of aliens and all are handled well, with a certain sense of sketchy surreality that hightens the mystery behind their existence and connections to each other.
It’s a great time for Sci-Fi comics and this is one of the reasons. But I worry that this book isn’t getting enough attention. I have no idea what the sales figures are on it, but I can’t imagine they are very big. I hope those of you reading this will give it a shot and support more books like it.