Rough Riders Volume 1 – Review
Adam Glass – Creator & Writer
Patrick Olliffe – Artist
Gabe Eltaeb – Colors
Some spoilers ahead
Rough Riders is Aftershock’s genre-bending amalgam of history, science fiction and mystery, with a displaced, half-mad Russian Mystic tossed in. Does is sound like a wild ride? It is.
The story centers around Theodore Roosevelt. America is on the cusp of the Spanish-American war. Roosevelt is tasked by the wealthiest men of the era to investigate the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor. Something extraordinary and decidedly not terrestrial is at work here. Roosevelt, motivated by his sense of adventure, patriotism and desire to help the less fortunate of the world, assembles a team composed of the most colorful and clever people of the era. Together, they sally forth to Cuba, not knowing exactly what awaits them.
Writer Adam Glass has taken on quite a challenge with this title. Any story of this kind will undoubtedly elicit comparisons to Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But Glass has created something quite unique here and done so with astounding skill. One of the challenges of using historical persons in fictional stories is giving them characteristics integral to the story, while still keeping them somewhat grounded in their historical roots. Glass has certainly done his homework here.Annie Oakley, Harry Houdini, Jack Johnson and Thomas Edison are lifted from the pages and history and American legend, but are developed superbly as the narrative moves along. The Dialog is crisp and is a clever combination of 19th century vernacular with occasional modern slang (e.g. Annie Oakley’s “well that sucked”). And for the astute reader, one or two “Easter eggs” references to modern historical events are sprinkled in.
The pacing of the story is swift and the suspense compelling. One wants to get to that next page a soon as possible. For me, though, the ending felt just a bit rushed. The steady build up of character and plot lead into a climax of the story where a flurry of activity takes places in the span of just a few pages. But this is no way detracted from my enjoyment of the story.
Patrick Olliffe’s artwork is another significant reason that this title is so compelling. The style fits the narrative perfectly, brings life to the story and lifts it from the pages and into the readers senses. Olliffe obviously did a good bit of research into the period dress and mannerisms.
Rough Riders is a fun, engaging story. It will certainly appeal to lovers of alternate history and western genres but I think it will find a wider audience as well. This one is a winner and worthy of anyone’s attention.