Detroit in the early 1970s. Factories and businesses are closing or leaving the city. White flight continues to the suburbs or other cities in the wake of riots in 1967. In the real world Richard Nixon is running for a second term as President and the Watergate scandal which forces Nixon to resign in disgrace begins in the early morning hours of June, 17th.
Elena Abbott is a journalist. In the first minis series she works for Fred Missakian, the Detroit Daily’s editor in chief. Writer/creator Saladin Ahmed describes Abbott’s character as a “detective for the people” and Ahmed follows through with this characterization. In the second mini, Abbott works at the Detroit Chronicle. Abbott thrives on order which for her means structuring her life around habits. Omelettes are the only food she’ll order at Broadway’s Black Star Diner, run by father and son Broadway and Wardell. Her days end with two brandies, sometimes having one brandy poured by Lincoln Chee at his restaurant but the second is always at home. John Coltrane’s music speaks to her on that sublime level. A Mustang convertible looks good on her.
Another guiding principle given to Abbott is a belief in and persistence to find and reveal the truth. She knows she’s good at investigating and reporting. It’s in her blood. She knows society is changing but not fast enough and journalism is not a friendly space for women, let alone a black woman. There is mutual respect between Abbott and her editor in chief Fred Missakian but she doesn’t care that her commitment has ruffled feathers for many of Detroit’s cops or some of the newspaper’s board members. This self confidence leads her to stand up to her Chronicle editor her doesn’t appreciate her skill.
One of Detroit’s finest that does respect Abbott is Sargeant James Gratham and Elena’s former husband. This is Abbott’s second marriage. Her first husband died under mysterious circumstances. Abbott’s romantic interest tend toward Amelia Chee, the sister of Lincoln Chee mentioned above. Both Abbott’s and Amelia’s parents were friends and Mr and Mrs Chee raised Abbott and her brother Elmer after their parents died. Even so, the on again off again always smouldering relationship is navigated by Abbott with extreme caution due to Amelia’s involvement with gangs. Despite or maybe because of their past together they may be each other’s weakness. The biggest difference in their personalities is Abbott’s need for order and routine, perhaps a coping mechanism developed in response to her parents’ deaths, whereas Amelia is carefree.
Abbott’s structured life and reality are challenged by supernatural elements introduced in the first mini which continue in the second. Her skills, experience, and determination are the resources she relied on to come through the ordeals. That same drive for the truth in politics, society, and current events will propel her to uncover the mystery and her part in it.
Please read the profile for Amelia Chee.
There are two Abbott mini series, Abbott (2018) and Abbott 1973 (2021), as of this writing, both collected under the same titles. The second mini ended on a cliffhanger.
Abbott and Amelia Chee’s creators are Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivela. Art in the cover image by Kivela and Jason Wordie from Abbott #1. Artists the second piece are Kivela and Matteo Iocono from Abbott 1973 #1.
Published by Boom Studios.
All rights reserved Saladin Ahmed.