By Ben Snyder
Out of a job and stretched to her wits end, Abbott #3 doesn’t leave it’s titular protagonist in the best of ways. There isn’t much more explained, but a few more interesting mysteries and a seemingly horrifying antagonist make this entry another strong entry into the Abbott series. Some of the minor gripes of the series are still present such as writer Saladin Ahmed’s overuse of speech bubbles, but that shouldn’t detract from a fun and enjoyable read.
Perhaps the most significant detail in Abbott #3 is the addition of the series’ seemingly main antagonist. We don’t receive his name or much time with him, but the time we do spend is certainly menacing. We know Elena is a strong character who doesn’t scare easily, so seeing her run out of the room begging for help speaks volumes.
Wardell is missing, and while it doesn’t seem like a major conflict in this issue, I am certain it will become more significant later on. Especially with the recent discovery, that the half missing bodies are related to the half missing horse. The requisite stoner magic man Sebastian also makes an appearance this chapter as well in a particularly exposition heavy sequence. The banter between the two doesn’t mesh well, and it reads like two different comic books are conversing with each other- A Supernatural Horror and a crime story. Understandably, Abbott is a supernatural crime story, but this scene isn’t the best example of these genres working well together.
I appreciate how Ahmed is not building up Abbott to be a sorcerer supreme of sorts, rather having her strength be her wit and grit. Sebastian already christens her, as the “Chosen One” of sorts so giving her overpowered magic would break the story. More interesting though is how little Ahmed is revealing about the magic world and keeping it a mystery. I enjoyed this because I feel if he Sebastian were to explain it all right now, we would have to wade through a whole separate issue or two and I simply can not deal with that much Sebastian.
Sami Kivelä delivers another solid issue artistically. While not all of his experiments land, the few that do are amazing. The introductory chase sequence is one of them. The panel layout after Abbott shoots the centaur works amazingly well and allows Kivelä’s figures to really pop against an all-white background.
Other pages however feel a bit too cluttered and while sometimes it is intentional and allows us to experience the stressful state of Abbott’s mind, other times it’s simply a distraction, particularly the scene of Abbott in the park with Sebastian. The background is beautiful and open and I wish I could have seen more of it, but instead word bubbles and side panels of faces constantly interrupt it. It can make the eyes do work a little too much and makes the read a bit bumpier.
While the flaws in Abbott #3 are not unique to the issue in particular, they are becoming increasingly more cumbersome. Common complaints such as overcrowding with word bubbles and inconsistent panel design quality are starting to pile up. However, the overall quality of the rest of the work gives me hope that these problems can be fixed. Which is good, because when Abbott works, it really works.