Written by: Saladin Ahmed
Art by: Sami Kivela
Published by: BOOM! Studios (January 24, 2018)
Elena Abbott is a reporter in Detroit in 1973. She is on a quest for the truth about the occult forces that destroyed her family. Issue number one of Abbott, from BOOM! Studios, hits shelves on January 24 and I think it’s safe to say that 2018 is off to a great start in terms of comic book fare and Abbott is definitely a huge part of that.
*Please note there are spoilers ahead if you have not read Abbott #1*
A group of men, officers and reporters among them, are standing inside of a Detroit mounted police unit murmuring about a recent find. It seems that one of the officers has found a mutilated animal inside of the stable and believe it might be the work of the local Black Panthers. Enter Abbott: a chain smoking, hard-nosed journalist who is the one to point out that the mutilation of animals is certainly not the style of the Black Panthers. As Abbott breaks up the patriarchy party, one of the men comments about The Daily not having fired her yet. Abbott ignores the comment and quickly calls out their journalistic integrity by asking if they are going to keep badgering the detective with theories or real evidence. This earns a scowls from the group of all-male reporters but it doesn’t phase Abbott in the least.
However, there’s at least one man out of the bunch who is not intimidated or annoyed by Abbott and that’s Murray. Surprised that Abbot’s taking her own photos at the crime scene, he questions her about it and it’s revealed that she is being punished by the higher ups at The Daily who were not fond of her pieces on police brutality. Murray tells Abbott, “That’s too bad. You’re a good reporter, Abbott. A damn good reporter.” All this is taking place while the pair take photographs of a bloody horse’s head on the floor and a strange reaction comes over Abbott while she stands there – a warning.
When Abbott heads back to the head office of The Daily, she is not greeted by many niceties. Speaking to the secretary, she is warned that Fred is in another meeting with the higher-ups, likely pulling out their hair over her article about the murdered 14-year-old African-American boy and they make that known the moment she walks into Fred’s office. The board members Moore and Grant make up a duo of racist pricks who use racial epithets to refer to Abbott before her boss kicks them out of his office, telling them he did not fight Nazis for this kind of crap.
Back at home after a long day, Abbott lets the sounds of John Coltrane ease her mind. Pouring herself a glass of something to drink, she gets swept away by the music and is soon dreaming about her late husband. First we see the pair in happier times before he begins carving strange symbols into the wall and telling Elena to run as he is surrounded by what can only be described as demons. But then, the telephone wakes Abbott up.
Crime doesn’t sleep and therefore, reporters can’t either. She heads out the door and to another crime scene after the phone call and is shown to a room where the dead body of a man – or what’s left of the body remains. Much like the feeling she got upon seeing the mutilated horse’s head, Abbott gets a terrifying feeling that there is something much more sinister afoot. After a quick smoke with lieutenant James, Abbott heads back to her car only to be seized by the same terrible feeling once more.
But what does this mean for Abbott and the people she surrounds herself with? You’ll just have to pick up the comic and read it to find out all of that.
Having majored in journalism, Abbott’s job as a reporter is something that resonated deeply with me. Couple that with being a black woman myself, in one single issue, Abbott has quickly become one of my favorite comic book characters. I enjoy that she’s a straight shooter and does not take anyone’s guff. She knows her own value and the value of those around her, and she is not afraid to fight for it. She is a hero with a purpose and will not allow others to make her stray from the path she’s set out for herself.
The artwork by Sami Kivela definitely matches the aesthetic of the 1970s and I enjoyed the nostalgic feel of it. The colors easily reflected the moods or the scenery that surrounded the characters effortlessly. It fit the narrative perfectly and coupled with Saladin Ahmed’s writing it was entirely captivating and pulled you in- so much so, that it is difficult to stop reading and by the end of issue one, I was definitely left wanting more.
The story is different than any I’ve read in the past and while it’s set in the early 1970s, there is a current feel to it with what is going on behind the scenes with racism, police brutality and injustice that one simply cannot ignore. I am glad it was featured heavily in the first issue to shed light about being aware of the world around us and remind us that these injustices still continue today.
Abbott #1 was a perfect mix of reality and supernatural, and neither element ever feels overshadowed or neglected. Much more than a black version of Lois Lane, Elena Abbott is in a league of her own. Abbott was truly as perfect as you can get for a number one issue for a new book and I cannot wait to see what issue two has in store!