By: Paul Cornell (story), Mirko Colak & Andrea Mutti (art), Giulia Brusco & Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: Aliens versus fairies.  Pretty sure that movie’s not going to be made any time soon.

The Review: I think I have little choice than to start off this review by talking about Saucer Country’s impending cancellation.  While it surely looks as if (as phrased by Dean Stell) DC’s trying to stop indie-lovers from putting any money into the company, and the axing of yet another title from Vertigo’s dwindling offerings does wreck DC’s creative cred some, all you have to do is look at the numbers to see why the title’s cancellation was all but inevitable.

Looking at the Comichron stats for December 2012, Saucer Country #10 was nearly the lowest-selling title for DC that month—bested only by kiddie series Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Scooby Doo: Where Are You? as well as October’s issue of Suicide Squad.  Do I think that’s a crime?  Yes.  Do I think lackluster sales should be a reason to prematurely end a title of great integrity?  No.  But do I think DC is making a reasonable business decision?  Well…

It is true that this series is extremely niche as far as genres go.  Extraterrestrial paranoia is usually the domain of movies, whereas comics love to go for the epic space-opera side of sci-fi.  Cornell also didn’t do himself any favors by adding the political spin to the story and engaging in some highly cerebral myth theory along the way.  You could argue that a lot of the story thus far has been rather indulgent instead of active.  Think of it this way: Saucer Country has had over a quarter the number of issues as Sweet Tooth, and plot-wise, it hasn’t come a tenth as far.

This problem gets further exasperated by the frequent interlude issues thrown in after each arc.  First, you had one that was basically a college lecture put into comic form.  Then there was the flashback history of the Bluebirds in #7.  Now you have an issue diving into Michael’s childhood with his sister Beth and their fairy friends, “Captain Lark and Miss Percival and the Heavenly Twins, among others,” all of which has a rather labored connection to aliens and the like.  In fact, it almost reads like a completely different series altogether.

That being said, it’s a compelling story, well-told, of how a person’s imagination can be both a coping mechanism and outlet for something deeper within.  There is a thematic relationship to the E.T. storyline in the sense that Michael can’t tell which part of the fairies is real and which is just “euphemism…false memories.”  Perhaps it’s just as the Silver Woman said in #5: “[T]his isn’t the whole truth.  Some of this memory is a metaphor.  Some of it is art.  All of it is real.  None of it is meaningless.”  And that’s pretty much the way things play out for Michael and his sister.  Imaginary or not, the fairies revealed something very real, and perhaps their uncertain existential nature makes them most appropriate to counter the similarly questionable delusions Michael keeps experiencing.  That makes yet another imaginary figment on our heroes’ side, along with the aforementioned Silver Woman and Professor Kidd’s Pioneer couple.

My guess is that either Colak or Mutti did the art on the first half of the issue, and the other did the remaining half, because you can see a clear difference in quality about halfway through.  The first half is clean and full-bodied, with lots of detailing in the figures and faces.  The second half gets a bit sketchier, rougher around the edges, even a bit ragged, with features lost in shadow and silhouette.  Brusco’s colors look a lot punchier than Loughridge’s, too, which makes the issue’s first half appear even more impressive.

Conclusion: Extremely subtle, you can appreciate its intellectual merits, but the entertainment value is not quite all there.  Slightly off art also diminishes the issue’s quality.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Oof.  Stepping on a fairy.  I’m pretty sure you can live with the guilt of that for the rest of your life.

– “You hope things are going to change—it looks like they might.  Then it all slides back.  And it’s all still the same underneath.”  My sentiments about the current state of politics, exactly.



  • dfstell

    Yeah…..I can’t argue with the numbers. It pains me that the market doesn’t support these sorts of titles better, but when they don’t sell…..they don’t sell.

    That being said, this wasn’t the best issue, especially given the impending doom for the series. It’s like this was written/drawn before they heard the news.

    • Minhquan Nguyen

      Probably, since this issue must have been written a month or so ago, at the very least.

      I’m pretty resigned to all this; being a fan of NBC sitcoms has taught me to appreciate all the time these things can get before they’re sent to the chopping block, rather than pine for what might have been.

    • paladinking

      I think DC even did the book the favour of waiting till the sales numbers for the first trade came in before deciding its fate. After all, Vertigo has traditionally been the place where books with shitty monthly sales survive thanks to excellent trade sales (Unwritten, Sweet Tooth, Scalped, DMZ, etc).

      But the sales for Saucer Country Vol. 1 weren’t good either. It only managed to place #26 in the month it came out and didn’t even crack the top 200 the next month.

      Meanwhile, that first month where Saucer Country placed 26th? Fairest Vol. 1 also ame out and placed 4th and the final volume of Scalped placed 9th.

      So unlike a lot of Vertigo books, the trade market was enamored with Saucer Country either. That was the real death sentence here.

      • Minhquan Nguyen

        That’s really too bad. What do you suppose is the problem?

        • paladinking

          lack of unanimously glowing critical reception, I’d say.

          The fact that Paul Cornell has never been a sales-draw probably didn’t help either. But I’d say the lack of hugely positive reviews was the big one. That plays a huge role generally in the sales of a first Vertigo trade (with later volumes being contingent on how the first one does…trade-waiters seem to be extremely loyal).

          • Minhquan Nguyen

            Well, yeah, but what I meant was what do you think it is about the story of Saucer Country itself or Cornell’s writing that makes it less popular than it should be.