Ahmed has captured life, its ever shifting landscape, and the flow of conversation between its players like few I’ve ever encountered before.
Some comics pass by with a nod of the head, some offer a warm handshake, some stay a while and become great friends, and some simply drift away unnoticed, and others, a rare breed, floor us with a mighty uppercut to the jaw borne of wonderful writing, gritty characters, and layer upon layer of delicately placed intrigue. Abbott is a rare breed.
From the pen of, Saladin Ahmed, the opening chapter of Abbott, places us slap bang into the dark beating heart of 1970’s Detroit, a city divided by racial tension, police brutality, and distrust. The life and soul of the city in turmoil absolutely sings from every corner of this comic, every single page is soaked in gritty harsh realism and unrelenting spirit until we eventually emerge drenched but thirsting for more. Ahmed has captured life, its ever shifting landscape, and the flow of conversation between its players like few I’ve ever encountered before. To take an opening issue that is largely about moving pieces into place, laying the foundations, and fleshing out the characters, and make it such a gripping, beautifully flowing read, is testament to the skill of the writing within these pages.
The titular, Elena Abbott, is a black female reporter working in a masculine environment under the shadow of racism and brooding tension. But she is a strong woman who refuses to bow to relentless pressure from those in power, and has a determination to tell a story, the real story. She is loathed and loved in equal measure in a city torn. She has her own demons, a past that harbours lost love, pain and death, a cigarette permanently hanging from her mouth, and ghosts that are moving in the dark unseen corners once again. But most importantly, she feels real.
And this instant realism and depth of character shines throughout. The relationships with Abbott shares with her ex husband detective, and her newspaper editor, are so seamless and natural that you almost feel like you’ve known these people all your life, a further nod to the simplicity and magic of Ahmed’s writing.
Amid the noise and colour of 70’s Detroit that is beautifully captured, we have murder, suspicion, and a paranormal element to carry us along the opening stretch of what is already a mesmerising journey, but I will stay spoiler free, these are pages you owe it to yourself to explore with little prior knowledge.
The artwork from, Sami Kivela, and colour work from, Jason Wordie, truly captures the energy and vibrancy of the decade, the 70’s are alive and kicking hard from the pages of Abbott. The detail is subtle and brilliant, and the colours offer that perfect retro vibe to the whole package. The marriage between story and art has been crafted in the heavens and the allows the reader to reap such rich reward.
As I reached the cliffhanger finale of issue one I was already clamouring for more. Rarely have I encountered such a complete and engaging opener as this. There is genuine magic at play within the pages of Abbott, and it has already cast a spell over me, one that I am in no rush to break. Let it enchant you too.