Saturday, 25 March 2017

Rough Riders #2 - AfterShock Comics

ROUGH RIDERS No. 2, May 2016
Focusing upon Theodore Roosevelt’s recruitment of Harry Houdini, Thomas A. Edison, Edward “Monk” Eastman and Annie Oakley, Adam Glass’ narrative for Issue two of “Rough Riders” is a decidedly choppy affair, which doesn’t really seem to settle down until the semi-historical ‘super-team’ have all congregated at the South Street Seaport in New York City and proved themselves in a rather bloody fist-fight with some local ruffians; “You can start by giving us all your money, fancy pants.” Up until this point, some two thirds of the way through the twenty-page periodical, the executive producer’s writing is uninspiringly episodic, and flits from one seemingly surreal conversational piece to another, before culminating in the future president literally waltzing with Buffalo Bill’s female exhibition shooter rather than be shot be her…

Fortunately however, once the “Oni Press” graphic novelist does finally bring his titular characters together, and Teddy has smacked a spike-clubbed thug square in the nose, this comic swiftly starts to ‘pick up’. Indeed, whether it be the fast-paced antics of Houdini’s eye-watering crotch-kicks and ‘Gambit-like’ card-throwing, Miss Oakley’s teeth-shattering beating of “two sweet-talkers” intent of taking advantage of the “taken woman”, or Jack Johnson’s over-confident right-handed pugilism, there’s more than enough sense-shattering action contained with this book’s final sequence to surely have sated the publication’s 5,107 strong audience.

There is even an opportunity for the title’s creator to clearly help the group’s innovative inventor, Edison, carve himself out a niche as the storyline’s cowardly comedic relief, and demonstrate Roosevelt’s zero tolerance for the racial bigotry of one of his recruits, by having the American statesman hurl the brutish Monk overboard after witnessing the gangster standing idly by as a bowler-hat wearing bully was about to club his negro team-mate from behind; “I had to see if everyone would fight for one another. And you all passed. Except you, Monk. You’re out. You won’t be part of the Rough Riders.”

Capturing all the dynamism of this “good work” is “veteran comic book illustrator” Patrick Olliffe, whose style both readily “captures the historical figures” and makes “them feel like the icons they are”, but without making them appear lazy “caricatures.” In fact, the “Untold Tales Of Spider-Man” artist’s technique of utilising hatch-lines to suggest an item’s speed or force, really helps make the punches fall with a resounding thud or bone-breaking crunch.
Creator & Writer: Adam Glass, Artist: Patrick Olliffe, and Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb

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