Review: Abbott #1
The 70’s provided a lot of change for the world but also like in today’s world, not much has changed. For one, racism isn’t over as watered down history books or even bio books for children about Martin Luther King Jr. would like you to believe. And two, the second wave feminist movement had gotten started. Both sets of minority groups to this day are still fighting the oppressors that continuously try to put them down but the groups never gave up and still don’t, no matter what. So in comes Saladin Ahmed with Abbott, fresh off the success of his book for Marvel, Black Bolt. Which received high acclaim and hey, it’s a solid debut for a dude who previously wrote fantasy books influenced by Middle Eastern mythology. How wild is that?
So here is his (so far) first Non-Marvel comic book. It is not based on an existing property, it’s creator owned. And he makes just as much of an impression here as he has done for Black Bolt but of course, he added a different flair.
For one, it’s a period piece. The book takes place in 1972 where the aforementioned aspects of history I mentioned are in full swing especially based on the opening pages of the book (complete with sections of Elena Abbott’s article spread throughout the book) as well as the all out bigotry by old white men whether they’d be cops or people who run the newspaper. Even some who can appear to be allies either have ingrained racism and misogyny or just flat out ignorant.
In any case, it doesn’t deter Elena Abbott herself from delivering the truth to her readers. One of the main driving forces of the book-plotwise, is Abbott’s article about the murder of a 14 year old African American boy by a police officer and yeah, you can see what the motivation no doubt was. Abbott is confident, unapologetic about who she is, a hard smoker and drinker and always seeks out the truth to bring justice. And I loved this woman right from her first scene. She doesn’t allow the men to intimidate her and just doesn’t give one fuck what they say or think of her. One panel just said it all, it was glorious to behold.
There is a murder mystery involved however but it serves as a nice twist because as it turns out, a decapitated horse head and a dead human body are part of a occult scenario. Yes, this book has a supernatural aspect driving the story as well as provides backstory to Abbott herself and what changed her on that very day when she first encountered various demons first hand. Which makes her backstory very tragic and engaging. And it’s this aspect of the story that provides a lot of intrigue especially since given this is the first issue, it set up what kind of world this comic takes place in. And there’s a curious running choice of words about order which I don’t doubt there’s a payoff in future issues.
Saladin Ahmed, artist Sami Kivela and colorist Jason Wordie really do a solid job setting up what this comic has to offer in its world building, its characters and the type of story it wants to tell. Ahmed, Kivela and Wordie with a solid combination of writing, art and coloring gives the book a dark, noir edge to it from the 70’s aesthetic to the last page of the comic. All of which compliment each other very well. Ahmed always has a good grasp on character and it’s no different here. As I said, I love Abbott from her first page and throughout the book, he really made her such a compelling character to read the more I dived into the book. Kivela and Wordie do just as much of the heavy lifting between the character designs and emotions and the backgrounds and gritty, noir feel to the proceedings. It feels natural especially given the setting of Detroit which in a way reminds me of Robocop but less 80’s. Both simply nail the rundown, gritty feel of Detroit, Michigan that makes it interesting to see. And the Horror/Supernatural elements again, do add to the book. You can tell all three creators are eager to dive further into these aspects and how Abbott will cope with them and fight against them.
If you like much of these elements I mentioned, then this book is definitely for you. It’s a must read.