Reporters tend to be underrepresented as protagonists, especially in supernatural tales. A reporter’s entire job, after all, is to dig, to do research, to find something out people don’t want you to know. Of course, sometimes the people in question are more concerned with the bottom line or their own egos than mad cults or vampires on the loose. What makes Abbott, which launches today from BOOM! Studios, so compelling is that it mixes social unrest, eldritch terror, and the day-to-day unpleasantness of being an honest reporter into a heady brew.
Saladin Ahmed, currently making Black Bolt compelling over at Marvel, sets the book in 1972 Detroit, and follows the title character, a black woman with a job at the Detroit Daily reporting the news. Abbott prefers being honest over being diplomatic, and it doesn’t earn her any favors. Also not helping: the ancient evil that killed the love of her life seems to be back. Sami Kivelä, who illustrates does some gorgeous work, especially in the opening, using a mix of layout and illustration to set the scene, and framing everything just so, while Jason Wordie’s carefully faded coloring gives it both a sense of place and discomfort.
Abbott is a welcome return to horror tropes, in some ways, even while it busts them in others. But what really makes the book is its sense of time and place. If you’ve never been to 1972 Detroit, the books make you feel like you have.
Sex Criminals #21, Image Comics
Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky return to their sex comedy/science fiction/caper/romance book six months after our heroes Jon and Suze break up. They are both miserable. They are both lonely. They are both primed to make some reeeeeeallly bad decisions, but that’s clearly just a bit further down the pike. For now, we get to witness an extremely awkward post-breakup meeting, one that’s hilarious in a way you’ll have to discover for yourself.
Marvel Two-In-One #2, Marvel
Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung go deep into Monster Island as the Thing and the Human Torch hit their old hangout of Monster Island to find, what else, a doohickey. Of course, this is Monster Island, so for any doohickey they want to find, they’ll first need to deal with the natives. It’s a fun comic, but it also stands out for Zdarsky and Cheung’s sheer love of the classic Fantastic Four comics, which they put twists on in different ways, with Cheung riffing on Jack Kirby’s classic designs and Zdarsky poking affectionate fun at the comics’ more silly conceits, including a little bit of nibbling at the hand that feeds.
Vinegar Teeth #1, Dark Horse
Damon Gentry, Troy Nixey, and Guy Major deliver what’s definitely one of the strangest debuts in recent memory, a mix of ’30s crime story and Lovecraftian monstrosities with a tone more along the lines of an R. Crumb comic than a horror book. The title creature eats a mob boss, ruining the bust of his future partner, and quickly becomes a member of the Brick City Police. Nixey and Major give the whole thing a warped, distorted feel, with everything out of proportion and twisted just beyond where it makes sense, from buildings to people, so that the insecure pallid tentacle monster is probably the most human thing in the whole book. It’s gorgeous, it’s strange, and while it may not be for everyone, it’ll stick with you.
Doomsday Clock #3, DC Comics
This series has packed in a lot of surprises over just three issues but, as this unfolds, Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson have even more in store. Basically, if you know your DC history — and this issue is loaded with references to DC’s Golden Age — you’ll know something is wrong. But just what it is, and why it’s happening at all, makes for a fascinating story. Is it up to the quality of the original Watchmen? Well, we just don’t know yet. But in its own right, it’s a great read.