Abbott #1 Review
We're fortunate enough today to have a decent amount of people of color and women leading in comics. In the 1970's, not so much. That's one of the things that make Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä's ABBOTT so special.
Abbott is a female African American journalist in 1970's Detroit... yeaaahhh so we already know she's got it rough. At the crime scene of a murdered police animal, bystanders and investigators blame "negro agitators" for the crime (with no proof, of course). Abbott shows up to get the REAL story, which has made her a staple in her community.
Of course not everyone is a fan of her TRUTHFUL reporting style, including the investors and board members who own the paper she writes for. This scene seems to effect Abbott in a mysterious way, but that's pushed to the wayside as the story moves on to Abbott's world, including battles with publishers and hints to Abbott's backstory.
Later on, Abbott reports to another murder, this time a person. Abbott reacts even more intensely, seeming to have a connection with the crime itself. This leads to the issue's stunning cliffhanger that elevates the concept to a whole new level.
The language used in the storytelling is very reminiscent of the time, with pop culture references and jokes that feel like they could be in an episode of "Good Times". Even the art is spot on 70's, with Sami Kivelä invoking the style of bronze age comics (bronze age spidey to be precise). The clothing of the characters and the look of the backgrounds really immerses the reader in that era, but the prejudice in the story is almost exactly like today. Every time a character says "negro agitators", "race baiters" springs to mind, a term used to dismiss anyone wanting to discuss racism in America. Beyond that, it also illustrates well how racism doesn't just pertain to the lowly and ignorant, but also the powerful, embodied by the bigotry of her publishers, who are barely kept at bay by Abbott's editor. All of it points to a multilayer story with goes beyond the genres it's reference. All in all, a stellar debut by Saladin Ahmed, who has become a comic writer to watch in a relatively short window of time. ABBOTT goes far to cement that status.