Writer- Adam Glass
Artist- Pat Olliffe
AfterShock Comics ventures into the business of revisionist history, with their latest title, Rough Riders. Writer Adam Glass, a scribe for the CW show Supernatural and author behind the New 52 reboot of Suicide Squad leads us on an adventure featuring historical characters banding together to face a world threatening enemy. No, it is not a rip off of a certain Alan Moore comic featuring a similar premise with literary characters of yore banding together, as its first issue is smart enough to be so good that it doesn’t seem derivative. Sure the idea is inspired by The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but this book appears to be heading in its own direction.
1898. Soon to be POTUS Teddy Roosevelt uses his flying ship and fearlessness to save some sweatshop laborers from a building fire. Born sickly, Roosevelt took the advice of his father to heart; build your body and you will survive through anything. After years of big game hunting, politicking and heroism, Roosevelt has made himself known as a man of action and a true American patriot. Summoned by a mysterious cabal of the most powerful men in America known as The Four Horsemen, Roosevelt is offered a mission. There have been some pretty bad things going on in Cuba, get down there and stop it. Despite being sent in under U.S. supervision with military escorts, the true mission will be off book. After accepting, Roosevelt goes about building his team for the mission. First recruit on the list; African-American boxer and soon to be legend Jack Johnson. After gaining Johnson’s trust and getting him to join up, the issue ends with the next target for recruiting. I will not indulge as to who else is going to be part of the team, even though it is available to read in previews of the book and on the cover, as that leads to a good portion of the fun. The first issue sets up Roosevelt’s story well, and it looks as if the next couple of issues are going to consist of one of my favorite tropes in storytelling, the “putting the band together” arc.
Glass eases us into the story, being careful to give us more character development than actual meat and potatoes plot movement yet. This works, as these characters have to be recognizable as their real life selves, but we also have to accept their more fantastic fictitious elements with ease too. I fully believed I was reading about the real 26th President, as his mannerisms and character seemed right from the history books, yet I also could easily believe that he spent his nights as a 19th century vigilante. Pat Olliffe captures the look of the time excellently, and his action scenes are fantastic. Smaller details such as a girl Roosevelt couldn’t save being reflected in his glasses as she perishes are just touches of visual storytelling at its best.
At issues end, I really enjoyed Rough Riders #1, and look forward to seeing who else joins and how. Glass and Olliffe have chemistry and told a solid story on two fronts, script and art. Fans of DC’s Suicide Squad concept, or even films like The Dirty Dozen should latch onto this book pretty easily, as they share some common DNA. This is the first book I have read from relatively new imprint AfterShock, but it has enticed me to try more.
4 Illuminati of 5