Paul Cornell's smart and packed with commentary story, which has found glorious new life at IDW Publishing is a treat for both political (arm chair) pundits and comic book fans in general alike. Under the potential threat that is the impending arrival of an alien ship (or at least a suspected alien ship), President Arcadia Alvarado meets with President Putin. Meanwhile, Alvarado's political operative Choe meets with with the man who "invented flying saucers," and fake news itself, yet still had an strange experience with extra...something...entities. Neither may have survived the experience though, further complicating this already taunt mystery.
Comic book writers often used "ripped from the headline" themes, but few make such witty use of them as Paul Cornell does in Saucer State. There's plenty of obvious and topical commentary that's easily sussed out here, but by peeling back the layers of the story and complications in the plot, the misdirection Cornell employs makes Saucer State a read that goes beyond its obvious commentaries. Are the aliens real? Are they the mass hallucinations induced by microwave mind scrambler machines? Are they spiritual advisors or lecturers from another dimension? Are they our own subconsciousness? Who knows? That's part of the beauty and the artistry of the series thus far.
Speaking of beauty, artist Ryan Kelly brings the whole affair to smartly executed and realistic life. The story moves along in a much more cinematic looking way due to Kelly's use of the dying art of multiple (and highly detailed) panels per page. There's hardly any splash pages or full page spreads, except where they make the most impact visually and emotionally (as like on the last page of this issue). Most contemporary mainstream books have way fewer panels that the comics of the 1970s had, and while Saucer State doesn't have that many, or nearly as much dialogue, it has much more than most regular, weekly produced, superhero books have.
Kudos to Paul Cornell for doing something rare these days in the world of sequential art: delivering a quality story driven book that actually manages to keep its readers engaged, guessing, and thoughtfully entertained.