Abbott Review

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Between a shooting war on the other side of the world and the war for the heart of the city, 1972 Detroit is on the edge. Reporter Elena Abbott works a beat in that city, but now she has uncovered a dark conspiracy with threads that reach into her own past. Can she fight it or will she be enveloped by the dark?

Abbot Trade Paperback ReviewABBOTT REVIEW

Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Illustrations: Sami Kivela
Colors: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Cover: Tai Tenfold
Publisher:  BOOM! Studios
Release Date: December 12th, 2018
Cover Price:  $17.99

Previously in ABBOTT: Abbott is the tale of a journalist trying to report on the truth in a city where self-serving lies take precedence. When she is pulled into a magical conflict for the very city, she discovers old scars never really heal. Previously published as a five-issue series from BOOM! Studios, it will be collected this December in a softcover edition.

SOMEBODY’S WATCHING YOU STAND…

When the seventies arrived in America, it was already a time of change. The peaceful protesters of the sixties were replaced by the more jaded protest of people who were tired of being told to wait and see. They demanded more than lip service from their politicians. The city of Detroit was a city divided and racial tensions had been ratchet up to a point where anything could happen.

This is the world of Elena Abbott, top-reporter for the Detroit Daily News. As good as she is, she is a reporter with a target on her back. Her stories of police brutality against the African-American population have rubbed people in high places the wrong way. Her editor, Fred Missakian, covers the best he can for her, but he feels a constant pressure to stop her stories. As punishment, the Board of the paper decides that she must work as her own photographer, and it is with camera in hand that she finds herself in Palmer Park investigating the mutilation of a police horse. The police think, with no evidence, it is a political activist group the Black Panthers, but as Elena points out, there is no evidence to this. Sparring with the police is only part of the services she offers, but she gets more than she expects as she approaches the mutilated remains of the horse. The head and neck of the animal lay on the ground in a puddle of blood and only Abbott can see the strange, glowing traces of “shadow” which emanate from the wound.

Shaken, she proceeds on her very orderly, structured day. This means lunch at Broadway’s Black Star Diner and a little friendly conversation with the owner, Broadway, and his son, young Wardell. You see, Abbott has a very precise schedule she keeps. “Order.” She tells young Wardell, “It’s what keeps chaos at bay.” That order continues, even after she walks in on a very chaotic meeting between her editor and two of the board members of the paper. Once again, her stories have caused a problem for them, but Fred stands firm. Elena writes the story of the horse mutilation before arriving at Chee’s restaurant to have her first of two brandies for the night, another component of her ritual habit. Returning home for the second, she falls asleep to John Coltrane and dreams of her husband Samir. You see, Samir was a worldly man who knew what lay beneath the surface of all. Elena lost him when the shadows came and dragged him away. She is awakened by a late phone call from her living ex-husband, Sargent James Grantham of the Detroit Police Department. There has been another mutilation slaying, this time of a young black man. No, they cannot identify him, all that remains of him is from the waist down, his upper body is gone.

When Elena arrives and sees more of the mysterious shadows floating around the remains, she begins to believe this could have something to do with the tragedies in her past. When a masked, knife-wielding assailant, surrounded by the energy known as The Umbra later attacks her, she is certain. Will she survive to discover what it all means? What sacrifices will she be forced to make to save herself and her city from the evil lurking underneath the darkness?

DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN

Abbott was published in earlier this year by BOOM! Studios as a five-issue mini-series. The title character leapt from the mind of award-winning novelist and comic book author Saladin Ahmed (Black Bolt, Exiles) and stands as a testament to Ahmed’s skill and willingness to show something other than what is often considered a normal point of view. He displayed this skill in his Black Bolt series as well as in his spectacular fantasy novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon. Ahmed has the ability to turn a phrase and give it new meaning and an unwavering eye that spots what many may let slide. He drags the sins of some out into the open and displays them in an unerring and sometimes uncomfortable light. The character of Elena Abbott steps from the page as a whole woman, complete with a past, desires and hopes for a future. Instead of throwing himself fully into a magic-filled world, he places her on the outskirts and lets her reporter’s eye reveal to us the things we do not see. By placing it in a 1972 Detroit, he is able to draw a parallel between how a whole sector of our society was treated in the past, making the reader take a hard look at the situation here in our time.

Artist Sami Kivela (Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Real War Age of Darkness, Hit List) displays an artistic ability seemingly filtered through the eye of the cinema. Kivela has captured the feel of the seventies, and it makes for a very immersive reading experience. It has the feel of a movie, and it is this art, with colors by Jason Wordie (Penny Dreadful, Johnny Red) that bring Saladin Ahmed’s story truly to life.

BOTTOM LINE: A HARD-HITTING TALE OF MAGIC AND MYSTERY

The trade collection of Abbott is a satisfying read that reaches many places successfully. You have a slice of Detroit in the early seventies, a magic-driven story, a tough, underappreciated journalist hero and a love story. It is a total package. I am even putting it in the top five trades I’ve enjoyed this year. The writing of Saladin Ahmed is wonderful here and hopefully will persuade you to hunt up his other works, comic book and novels. Sami Kivela and Jason Wordie’s work here reminds me of the look and feel of classic seventies independent comics from publishers such as Eclipse and Atlas. This is the high caliber product, exactly what we have come to expect from BOOM! Studios.

ABBOTT is a thrilling story with a bold cast of characters and a big-screen worthy story. Pick it up and be amazed.

Abbott

93%
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ABBOTT is a thrilling story with a bold cast of characters and a big-screen worthy story. Pick it up and be amazed.

  • Writing
    10
  • Art
    9
  • Coloring
    9
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About Author

Back in February of 2008, Stacy Baugher wrote his first article for Major Spoilers and started a solid run of work that would last for over two years. He wrote the first series of Comic Casting Couch articles as well as multiple Golden Age Hero Histories, reviews and commentaries. After taking a hiatus from all things fandom he has returned to the Major Spoilers fold. He can currently be found on his blog, www.stacybaugher.com , were he post progress on his fiction work as well as his photography and life in general, and on Twitter under the handle @stacybaugher . If you're of a mind, he also takes on all comers with the under the Xbox Live Gamertag, Lost Hours. He currently lives in Clinton, Mississippi with his understanding wife, and two kids.

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