Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly’s “Saucer Country” continues to surprise me in a variety of ways, including how the main character takes a backseat this issue. After the focus of the story being primarily on Governor Alvarado for the first two issues, she’s in less than a dozen panels of “Saucer Country” #3 as we shift primarily to two of the side characters. It’s a good move that builds things nicely and begins already tying things together in a way that feels layered and well considered.
So far the biggest strength (of several) in “Saucer Country” continues to be how unexpected it is. Perhaps as a result of reviewing a lot of comics, I’m confronted frequently by stories that I can see coming a mile away. Not every story has to surprise me, but I’m incredibly impressed (and happy) when one does. I have to admit, I have no idea where “Saucer Country” is going. It weaves when I expect it to bob and bobs just when I think it will weave and the result is a comic I find myself really happy to be surprised by month after month.
Paul Cornell doesn’t pull punches in this title as he proved last month when he revealed in a very matter of fact way in a scene between Governor Alvarado and her doctor that she appeared to have been anally raped — which of course ties into the abduction storyline. But in was handled in a truly unexpected way, where nothing was hinted at, but rather said outright. I miss that quality in many of my stories. Rarely in life do people dance around the issues the way they do in fiction, so it’s a treat to see a storyteller just getting right to it. Cornell continues that directness in this issue, giving the entire book a very realistic and honest tone that ends up making some of the unbelievable elements even more compelling.
Ryan Kelly is a great artist for this book. He’s got a great handle on both the realistic look the book needs to have — politicians and their staff in business suits — and yet he doesn’t shy away from giant bunnies, tiny magical “pioneer people,” and traditional, even stereotypical looking aliens. They are images that in the hands of a lesser artist might be too cacophonous together, but thanks to Kelly, readers can accept them with ease in the same way that they can accept Cornell’s script. Giulia Brusco’s colors are powerful, especially when it comes to the less traditional moments. The scenes with the giant bunnies are hard to forget in large part thanks to Brusco’s riveting unnatural palette.
Kelly’s skills take a lot of pressure off of Cornell, allowing him to do exactly what he needs to with the story, without worrying about whether Kelly can deliver the visuals in a realistic and compelling way. A book like this could easily go wrong, but thanks to a strong creative team that is confident in their endgame, it’s instead a fascinating book and one of the most unique I’ve read in a long time.