New Year, New Name: Boom! Studios’ ‘Abbott: 1973’ #1 Reviewed
by Rachel Bellwoar
Will 1973 be a better year for Elena Abbott than 1972 was?
Abbott. Abbott: 1973. What’s the difference? A year isn’t that long, and for most series it probably wouldn’t be a big deal for the year to show up in the title. It’s probably helpful for comic shops, too. If you haven’t been reading Abbott from the start it’s always easier to pick up a first issue than an issue #6, and for any fans that might’ve missed the announcement that the series is coming back, it’s a way of realizing that oh, this is a different issue and not a variant cover I’ve never seen before.
The fact that this issue opens with a two-page recap, too, further suggests that Boom! Studios is trying to think of new readers and not give them a reason to walk away. Usually, you’re lucky if there’s a brief recap. Here Sami Kivelä’s artwork gets showcased as well.
The thing to remember about Elena Abbott, though, is how strictly she used to follow a routine. Whether it was eating the same meal at the same restaurant every day, or only allowing herself to drink two brandies. Friends noticed when she broke her routine because that’s how little it happened.
Reading issue #1 of Abbott: 1973 through that lens, then, as much as Abbott’s life might seem calmer, compared to how things were left in 1972, her old routine is still in shambles. Maybe that routine was too extreme but is that what Elena should be striving towards again or is she better off without it?
While most of the creative team is back, Mattia Iacono has replaced Jason Wordie as colorist for the second arc. This works, though, because while Iacono’s colors are cleaner and less textured than Wordie’s, they add to the general vibe of new colors, new Elena.
Indeed, things seem to be looking up for Detroit’s most intrepid reporter. She’s writing for The Chronicle now instead of the Detroit Daily, a Black-owned paper that’s not trying to suppress her voice. She’s moved in with Amelia (they even share a dog). Elena seems happy, like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders. If Elena’s entrance in Abbott #1 emphasized how isolated and alone she was, her entrance in Abbott: 1973 is one of contentment and peace. The issue doesn’t start with her entrance, however, and before she even makes an appearance it’s clear that whatever peace she may have found, trouble is coming.
Abbott: 1973 #1 is all about the cracks starting to show (Jim Campbell’s letters, for instance, let us know that Elena is still nervous about people finding out she’s with Amelia) and while there isn’t a clear mystery yet, like the first arc had, with the murders and the young, Black boys going missing, it does feature the return of a favorite character (Henrietta Jackson) and some new antagonists. It’s a testament to how well Kivelä and writer, Saladin Ahmed, have made smoking part of Elena’s character that as soon as her new publisher starts to rag her about it, it’s over. He doesn’t even have to say another word (but he does, and it gets worse).
Abbott: 1973 #1 goes on sale January 20th from Boom! Studios. While the second arc is still taking shape, it’ll be electric if it’s anything like the first.