The older I get and the more comics I consume (loudly and without closing my mouth), the more I look for comics that are unapologetic in the stories they tell. Don’t get me wrong; I still love comics that are entertaining in their mindlessness, but given a choice, I will pick the comics that don’t try to blend in or hide their edges from the world any day. Over the last few years, I’ve felt myself grow up a lot, some of that growth was what inevitably comes with age, and some was due to situations outside of my control. The thing that kept me sane and connected throughout was reading comics and stories that seemed to grow and age alongside me. Abbott comic was one of those.
Comics can be one of the most powerful means of storytelling that there is. Comics can tell stories that empower, humanize and give a voice to those usually drowned out while still staying true to being a comic. Anything can and will happen throughout the pages. Are you looking at reading a mature, hard-hitting crime story about a take-no-nonsense journalist while also reading a supernatural sci-fi mystery? Comics have got you covered.
Created for Boom! Studios (Alienated; Once & Future; Something is Killing the Children) by novelist Saladin Ahmed (Black Bolt; The Magnificent Ms. Marvel; Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales) and with art by Sami Kivelä (Undone by Blood; Machine Gun Wizards; Beautiful Canvas) comes Abbott, a story about a journalist fighting for her place and the truth in a world that would rather sweep both under the rug.
I’ve read my fair share of “detective” comics over the last few months, but not a single one of them hit quite as Abbott did. Instead of the protagonist being the same old cliche: a middle-aged down-on-his-luck and cynical to a tee white man, we instead follow Elena Abbott – a badass, chain-smoking, unapologetically hardworking and honest journalist who believes in sharing the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. The story takes place in Detroit in the 1970s. We follow Abbott, who has just written a piece calling out and exposing the police for brutality. Abbott does this not only as one of the only female journalists of the time but also as one of the only black women in that position.
When Abbott starts investigating a series of troubling and grisly crimes that begin with a mutilated police horse and soon turn into multiple unknown mutilated black men, the police turn a blind eye, and Abbott realizes that getting to the bottom of this is up to her, and her alone. This investigation soon takes a dark and supernatural turn. Before even Abbott knows what’s happening, she finds herself in the middle of a dark occult web that is being controlled by some of Detroit’s most notable and powerful figures.
I’ve been sitting on Abbott for the longest time. I honestly can’t say why I never started reading it before, but man, oh man, am I glad I decided to dive into its pages now. The story of Abbott is a wild one, yet all the different tones and styles seem to work so well together. More than once, I was reminded of the greatness that was Lovecraft Country while reading it.
While not my favourite, the art style does such an excellent job of making Abbott stand out from the crowd and capture the feeling and atmosphere of Detroit in the 1970s. With the washed-out colour palette, the warm tones, and the gritty feel, you can almost smell the cigarette smoke coming off the page every time Abbott lights up, which is pretty much constantly.
At its core, Abbot is a detective story with some supernatural mixed in. Abbott doesn’t ever shy away from embracing the raw and the ugly of the time it’s set in either. We get to see the systemic sexism and racism that Abbott needs to navigate daily just to be able to do her job, one that she does better than most regardless of the obstacles she faces in almost every aspect of her life.
The Abbott comic is one of the most suspenseful and enduring comics to come out of the detective genre in a good long while. Having not just a female protagonist but one of colour that doesn’t mind standing up for herself or speaking her mind was refreshing and made for a story that is as impactful as it is intriguing, and honestly, it left me wishing for more.
Want to grab Abbott for yourself? Head over to Critters and Comics. The series is currently available in the following formats: Digital; Single Issues (5) or as a single Trade Paperback and if you don’t know what any of that means, click here and have your mind blown.