Abbott 1973 #2
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artists: Sami Kavela & Mattia Iacono
Letters: Jim Campbell
Abbott 1973 is truly a comic of our time, even though it takes place in 1973. While readers have only be served two issues of this revitalized comic, everything about it is a reminder of how history repeated itself. A reminder that the racist dog-whistle politics employed by Donald Trump are anything but new. No. The reality of our world and the reality of Abbot 1973 are the same one.
The story of this issue picks up right where the last issue left off. It centers around propaganda pamphlets. Someone is passing these pamphlets out around town, and they are clearly a tactic to keep stop Coleman Young, a Black politician from winning the mayoral election in Detroit. The pamphlets are full of egregious lies about the Black neighborhoods and people of the city. They are trying to drum up enough white fear to boost the turnout at the polls. If this sounds familiar. . . it means you haven’t buried your head in the sand for the last 5 years.
Throw in a cast of characters that is easy to root for and you’ve got a solid comic. While the most obvious antagonist is the Umbra, an evil amalgamation of hate and racism, the most intriguing character in the story thus far, besides Elena Abbott, of course, is the new owner of the newspaper she works at, Mr. Manning. Manning is a Black man who has antiquated ideas about women in the workplace. The way he speaks to Elena is more akin to the early 1960s when women were first breaking those workplace barriers and throwing off the homemade chains of the 50s’. But this comic takes place in 1973, so what’s Manning’s deal? Who knows. Maybe he’s part of the conspiracy to keep Coleman Young out of office, or maybe he’s just a total !$&*. Either way, his motives, and actions create a lot of tension and intrigue.
The art direction of this #2 has taken Elena to a darker place. I still remember the first scene of the 2018 run, when Abbott walks into a barn where a horse has been slaughtered, and not only is she cool and confidant, she inspires awe from other reporters and police officers alike. However, now she’s seen too much. Regardless of her growing power, she seems less sure, more scared, and somehow harder in face and stance than ever before. It’s a lovely juxtaposition, and it sets the whole comic on edge. As much as I want to see Elena be that badass from that first-ever issue, I’m excited to see where this is going, as the artistic direction the protagonist does a superb job of telling her mental and emotional state.
The issue is also jammed with clever paneling. There are some bright and awesome pannels, like when Elena summons her powers, but there are also some really nice dialogue-heavy pages that pack in those panels. The result is a clipped and fast-paced scene, building in tension.
Lastly, the lettering, like good lettering, unambiguous in style and placement. As I’ve noted before, where it really shines is in Elena’s news clippings. Throughout the issue, clippings from a to-be-written article act as commentary and context. The change of tone and pace, the change of lettering that makes it feel like readers have their hands on an artifact of the era is priceless.
A solid second issue. I love how to draws parallels to our own political atmosphere, reminding us now only of where we've come from, but the dangers of where we might go if bad actors aren't stopped and held accountable.