(W) Saladin Ahmed (A) Sami Kivela (C) Jason Wordie
Set in Detroit in the 1970s, the story of Abbott #1 is difficult to read without keeping in mind the current sociopolitical climate and how we appear doomed to repeat history. Whether it’s race relations or gender gaps, the story from writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Sami Kivela forces readers to take a long, reflective look at the social progress that has been made over the past 50 years, and how much still needs to be done. All the more impressive is that these issues are brought up within the context of a supernatural mystery.
The issue follows a day in the life of Elena Abbott, a journalist for the fictional Detroit Daily, which is portrayed as the distant 3rd newspaper in the city behind Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News. As a hard-hitting journalist, she’s developed a reputation as the city’s “black Lois Lane” which has made her popular with the people, and less so with the cops. Being a figure of controversy, Abbott is used by the creative team to spark discussions on social issues of that era which are still relevant today. An article of hers regarding police brutality against an unarmed minority is oft mentioned throughout the issue, and could easily be a headline ripped from today.
While social commentary is a strong element to this comic, a supernatural themed mystery is introduced, and will serve as a driving narrative force throughout the story. While little is revealed in this issue regarding the nature of the forces at play, the script does provide the wiggle-room for Kivela and colorist Jason Wordie to create haunting visuals. However, these moments are fleeting, so most of their efforts are put into recreating Detroit in its Motown heyday. To that end, they are largely successful. Their work allows readers to buy into this world, making the introduction of the supernatural all the more effective.
Abbott #1 is a taught, engaging comic. Ahmed, Kivela, and Wordie’s combined efforts make for a fully realized world readers can identify with. The artwork is fantastic, and the writing does not shy away from the social issues of its setting, or even today. This may be a bold claim, but Abbott is an early contender for best miniseries of 2018.