Previously: Abbott #4.
It feels like this terrific series from Saladin Ahmed, Sami Kivelä, Jason Wordie, Jim Campbell, Taj Tenfold, Michelle Ankley, Chris Rosa, Eric Harburn, and Boom! Studios just started, and now it’s already finished. It was a hell of a ride with Elena Abbott, and one I’m not ready to get off, but always leave them wanting more, I suppose.
So, full disclosure, I was unaware Abbott was set to be a limited run series until the days leading up to this issue’s release. It was being touted as the final issue of the series, and that hit me like a ton of bricks, frankly. I’ve loved this series from the first panel, and it is constructed so well that it could easily keep running. Alas, it seems it has told the story it set out to tell, and it did so very well. I’m really just being greedy, now.
If I had known there was only one more issue left, perhaps I would not have gone down that rabbit hole I went down in my review of issue #4. It really seemed plausible Ahmed was setting up a sort of retelling of Dante’s Inferno. As it turns out, we didn’t really go that direction as much as we sort of took a left turn at Albuquerque and ended up right in this sweet spot of Twin Peaks meets Dusk ‘Til Dawn.
If that sounds like an odd mixture to you, you’re right; it is, but it works surprisingly well. Bellcamp, the series’ villain, turned out to just be an old white guy. Yeah, he’s got magical abilities and occult ties, but at his core, he’s just a MAGA asshole who longs for the mythical “good old days”. Elena, quite literally, represents progress. She’s a champion of the truth, and that’s something we could really use more of in a time when actual journalists are out here too afraid to confront the real Bellcamps. Our journalists insist on using euphemisms and semantics to soften reality. Instead of calling Donald Trump’s lies out for what they are, the journalists of today prefer to call them “falsehoods”, “whoppers”, or “widdle fibbers”. Instead of acknowledging something like what Roseanne Barr said about Valerie Jarrett is racist, they’d rather refer to it as “racially charged” language. At a time when “fake news” is shaping public discourse, our journalists have chosen to traffic in circumlocution, and it’s actively damaging to our collective perception of reality. Elena Abbott, and what the character represents as a journalist and a “soldier of the truth”, is desperately needed.
At the same time, all that serious shit is cut, ever so slightly, by just a pinch of well-placed camp. There’s comedy and light, which is fitting for a comic about someone labeled “lightbringer”. The sprinkling of comedy, and the use of the mystical occult themes, throughout the series has served as the proverbial spoonful of sugar to help the reader swallow the social commentary being made. It’s like if Scooby-Doo ever did an episode with special guest David Duke. And he would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!
For five issues, Abbott told a compelling and socially relevant story, and it did so in an accessible and entertaining way. Saladin Ahmed’s writing has been outstanding, and the illustration by Sami Kivelä is incredible. Kivelä’s use of staging and talents for creating a dynamic layout are second to none; that continues in this issue, and I’m sure it will carry through to whatever project Kivelä tackles next. The entire team on this series did a wonderful job, but that’s enough looking back; we’re going forward.