"Abbott #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Saladin Ahmed
Illustrated by Sami Kivela
Colored by Jason Wordie
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on January 24th, 2018
Elena Abbott walks the supernatural beat in Detroit in 1972. She reports on the weird cases because she has first-hand experience with things that go bump in the night. When she’s not looking into the occult, she’s delivering hard-hitting reporting on racially charged police brutality, which has caused some waves with the local authorities. A pair of grisly murders – one of which involves a horse – pulls Elena into the darkness.
What you will notice immediately about Abbott is the title character. She is a strong, confident black woman who takes no shit. Elena chain-smokes her way into a scene, cutting through the nonsense and getting right to the facts. Even when something shocks her, such as finding a severed horse head, she keeps her composure.
Much of this comes through in artist Sami Kivela’s design for the character. Elena is always shown standing straight and confident. Kivela is a powerhouse of an artist and he’s only gotten better over time. This issue is a showcase of his work, capturing small details, such as the lighting of a cigarette, that really highlight the essence of the story.
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You can tell from the first page that this is a period piece, and not just because it literally spells out when the book is set. Jason Wordie’s colors help solidify the look and feel of 1972 Detroit. This is also shown in the fashion choices of the characters. It has the tone of classic 1970s exploitation movies.
Abbott takes its time introducing the character and her world. The supernatural elements are light in this first issue and I barely noticed. I was so enthralled by Elena and her story that it didn’t matter. This made the conclusion of the comic all the more intriguing. Writer Saladin Ahmed does a great job pulling you in with a compelling character that I’m ready to read about her ongoing adventures, wherever they may take her.
While the supernatural pieces are not used as much, there’s a different kind of horror on display. Racism is rampant and out in the open. People barely try to hide it. Elena confronts this head on and doesn’t flinch in the face of bigoted jerks.
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When Elena deals with something from the occult, there’s a kind of Spidey Sense effect. Coarse waves flow from her head and she looks pained, like she’s suddenly struck with a massive headache. Dark energy swirls out from a mutilated corpse, forming claws and jaws of evil, reaching out to her as if to swallow her up. She has some sort of connection to this darkness and she’s trying to control it.
Abbott hooked me with a great premise. It’s about a journalist investigating supernatural crimes that may be tied to the disappearance or death of her husband. It delivers on that and more with a gripping narrative and incredible artwork. If you want a new Foxy Brown where she deals with monsters and demons, this is the comic for you.