By Ben Snyder
Abbott #2 does enough to meet the lofty expectations set by its introductory issue by introducing a wide variety of interesting characters and leaning more into the supernatural elements of the story and still maintaining it’s detective story roots. Writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Sami Kivelä experiment enough in this issue to stretch out their roots and reach for the even higher heights in future issues. However, I do have some hesitations that the story may go down the traditional “Chosen One” story path that we have seen time and time again.
Saladin Ahmed’s main focus for this issue is to seemingly introduce all the rest of Elena Abbott’s comrades that will comprise the majority of the cast for the series and for the most part he succeeds. The supernaturally inclined Sebastian is funny and insightful, while sometimes overtly prophetic and preachy. Ahmed mocks this a little by having Sebastian admit that some of his information was from Abbott’s ex-husband, but it’s a slippery slope to having him be a “Deus Ex Machina” in a spiritual sense and having him exposition dump all over the page.
The other main side character introduced in this issue is the mysterious Amelia. I am getting strong Catwoman vibes from this character, as she obviously is criminally inclined with a soft spot for the protagonist. Amelia seems interesting enough to balance out her overly sexual nature. It’s obvious that she and Elena have a history as Kivelä depicts them playing footsie under the table and emphasizes how long Elena leaves her hand in Amelia’s grasp.
I’m curious to see how Ahmed writes Abbott’s past relationships. I have no problems with a strong woman having as many past partners as she wants, but in the only two issues of this series, we already have been introduced to 3 of her past partners (one was the love of her life) and several other people who could be potential romantic partners. Once again, I have no problem with a strong woman taking control of her sexuality in comics, but I don’t want such an interesting and strong character such as Elena to fall into the trap of being overly sexualized.
Ahmed does a very smart thing in this issue by introducing two characters one on the spiritual spectrum and one on the gritty noir side of the story. It only re-emphasizes Ahmed’s influences for the story and highlights the ongoing balance these elements will have on the story. Elena Abbott is being torn between the supernatural, and the socio-political and watching her treat each with the same sincerity and integrity is fascinating.
I mentioned this in my review for the first issue, but one complaint I have is with the wordy speech bubbles from each character. A lot of the time the page can seem cluttered with words wether a charcter is saying them or their ripped from one of Abbott’s articles. It feels as though their just is no space for the art to breathe on it’s own and it’s always suffocated with words.
Sami Kivelä’s art is great throughout the issue. I really like the risks he takes with his page layouts even if they don’t always pay off. Sometimes they can emphasize a little too much motion and could leave the reader a bit confused or exhausted from the eye movement. Once again, it doesn’t help that the speech bubbles take up so much of the art, adding to the eye exercise. I felt myself praying for a huge splash panel with limited panels and dialogue if only to give my eyes a rest and to truly appreciate Kivelä’s art, because it really is amazing.
For all of my gripes with Abbott #2 it is undoubtably a fantastic follow-up to an incredible first issue. Ahmed and Kivelä deliver on a handful of the promises of the introductory issue while also bringing forth new mysteries and interesting characters that will only benefit the series in the long run. Abbott continues to be one of the best new series of this year.