Elena Abbott has been fired from her newspaper job, and she is no closer to finishing the story she has been chasing all this time. However, this does not stop her, and she begins hitting up the police department and other contacts for information about Detroit University and Professor Bellcamp. However, the world is not finished kicking Elena yet, and she faces more daunting and even frightening obstacles on the path to cracking this case.
I keep coming back to this book because I truly believe there are a lot of great ideas in it, and Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivela are talented creators. I say this because I want to make it clear that this isn’t me holding some grudge against either creators or the premise of Abbott.
The premise, lead character, and many elements of Abbott are the hallmarks of a good reporter detective book. There is social and racial strife, the main character is complex and compelling, and the establishment power working against our hero makes the book even more interesting.
However, just when I think the book is winning me over, it always makes a misstep which takes me out of the story.
In this issue, it was two primary problems. The first is how Elena kept going back and forth on whether she knew that Detroit University and Bellcamp are the ground zero for all the weird shit going down in Detroit. It makes Abbott look slower than the reader, and it’s frustrating.
The supernatural elements aren’t inherently bad, but the random injections of high fantasy elements and Elena being some kind of prophesied “lightbringer” takes me out of this hard-bitten narrative about racism, sexism, and journalistic integrity.
The comic is terminally verbose too, and it could cut out a lot of it without losing much, especially when a noir cliché is trotted out with zero irony.
Kivela’s artwork continues to impress with its detailing and occasional digression into psychedelic imagery. The human/animal hybrid monsters look really cool, even if they barely fit in this story. Jason Wordie’s color art is well-balanced and looks good, especially in the aforementioned psychedelic scenes.
Abbott #4 continues to show signs of a great comic hidden within its depths, and I would even like to see another volume of this series somewhere down the line. However, with badly flawed plotting, pacing, and dialogue, I can’t recommend Abbott #4. Give it a pass.
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