Underneath the rich dust of 1970s Detroit and the sprawl of supernatural entities in Abbott: 1973 lies a simple concept: bigotry and its search to retain power threaten Elena Abbott’s city, livelihood and the truth, and Elena has both the literal and figurative power to stop it. It’s this concept that held such strength in the first series Abbott, and what continues brilliantly starting in the first issue right through this last issue of the second series.
Jumping back into the fight with the Umbra, we find Elena’s girlfriend Amelia possessed by Hunter, the Umbra member who has been orchestrating Elena’s troubles. Hunter attempts to seduce Elena to his plan of combining their power, citing that the cycle of their historied attempts to destroy one another needs to be stopped. It’s a clever reversal of Elena’s reasoning to stop Belmont in Abbott, where she defied him in a cry to move forward, not back.
But Elena doesn’t want to join him and pushes the shadow of Hunter from Amelia’s body in a passionate burst of light with her Lightbringer power. Sami Kivelä’s art keeps on delivering action without losing heart and shows this with a gorgeous two-page spread where the panels mimic the light beams. The purple and yellow color scheme representing the darkness and lightness respectively is still fascinating to drink in, and these pages exemplify Mattia Iacono’s skill in developing it flawlessly throughout Abbott: 1973.
Elena now has to regroup with her brother Elmer and comic-relief ally Nutcase to find Hunter and get rid of him permanently. The nice tonal contrast of Nutcase’s inadvertent joke in this issue would seem like a distraction, but the splash of humor continues to add a nice levity to the otherwise weighted tone that the story and characters hold.
In the final confrontation, Hunter attempts to scare Elena into submission with disappointed and menacing shadows of her loved ones telling her that she needs to be stronger for them. His strategy reflects something different than, and not as simple as, Belmont’s desire for hegemonic status in Abbott. Hunter overall represents a different kind of power, forcing guilt and fear to get her to comply, essentially attempting to gain power by diminishing her power. It’s this melding of socio-political awareness and supernatural antagonism that makes Saladin Ahmed’s worldbuilding so impactful. I’ve seen this type of scene before, where the light overcomes the dark, but the powerful simplicity of Ahmed’s melded story and themes makes it new and exciting.
The triumphant ending of Abbott serves as a nice contrast to Abbott: 1973‘s, where this time Elena is left jobless and loveless. It’s heartbreaking, but a perfect low for the character to rise even greater from. The final pages leave me incredibly intrigued for where Elena and the series could go next, especially with the Umbra and what the product of the fractured council would be.
However, the issue almost suffers from this setup. In taking the necessary technical steps to set up plot and character arcs for a third act, it makes this part of the story’s overall impact lesser, especially in comparison to Abbott’s tight brilliance. The final villain confrontation with Hunter was one of these steps and felt like a sequel movie set up for the third installment. This structure hinders the potential for deeper development of the themes. It’s a common “sequelitis” pitfall, but one that I don’t think could have been wholly avoided considering the trajectory of the story.
Any criticism I have, though, is because I want this work of art to be the best it can be. The issue and Abbott: 1973 overall still deliver stellar art and story that is captivating, compelling, and cognisant of our times. It continues to explore the themes of power, love, and truth through a host of new characters and historical themes, with Ahmed weaving the supernatural among its core messages with extreme poise and clarity.
Abbott: 1973 #5 delivers an engaging ending to a sequel that brings immense intrigue for a future installment. You would be losing out if you didn’t pick it up. Elena Abbott deserves another series of supernatural bigotry fighting, and I hope we’ll get to see that sooner rather than later.
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