Based on a screenplay by Spencer Marstiller and written by long time writing partners Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, Abbadon is the latest crowdfunded graphic novel from Paper Films this time co-produced with Adaptive Studios.
Palmiotti and Gray are returning to the Old West something the pair have ample experience of having written one of the most consistently impressive and underrated comics from DC Comics in Jonah Hex and it’s successor All Star Western for several years. This time though the pair aiming squarely at mature readers .
The Old West, America circa 1880 and Abbadon is a sprawling Old West town and whilst it might be poised to have an influx of investors the town is still a vice ridden den of inequity where money, influence and power can get you just about anything. Things are getting distinctly worse though as Abbadon is plagued by a series of brutal and grisly murders with Abaddon’s Sheriff Colt Dixon and U.S. Marshall Wes Garrett, a man famous for tracking down notorious killer “Bloody Bill” who left a trail of mutilated men, women and children in his wake before being apprehended. The pair are on the hunt searching for the elusive killer but in a place like Abaddon everyone is a suspect.
For some reason despite the vast number of comics being produced Western comics still seem rather rare, a gap in the market that Paperfilms are all too happy to take advantage of in style. Despite being a self contained story Abaddon reads like what could be the pilot episode for a HBO style TV show, probably owing to its origins as a screenplay it’s easy to see how the titular town could serve as the fertile setting for a wealth of stories.
The various tropes associated with Western stories are here but executed with style there’s the mayor of questionable integrity in the form of Jacob Sullivan, the grizzled rogue Sheriff Colt Dixon, the out of town lawman U.S. Marshall Wes Garrett and Rosie the madame of Abaddon’s whorehouse The Rose Petal.
Abbadon’s story is a taught and propulsive narrative with no filler and all the better for it as Dixon and Garrett try to uncover the identity of the elusive killer who keeps leaving grotesquely displayed corpses for the pair to find. What’s interesting is the way that the narrative plays with the contrast of perception versus reality, Sullivan isn’t so much bothered about the apprehension of the murderer for the safety and well being of the citizens of his town but rather the perception that he has been caught and how that will reflect on him as the mayor and a businessman looking for investors for his town.
Palmiotti and Gray’s writing is just one element though the art is another and artist Fabrizio Fiorentino along with colourist Alessia Nocera deliver with style. The discovery of the first victim is a particularly gruesome but impressive introduction to how things are in Abbadon and the imagery which accompanies the story of Garrett’s famous encounter with Bloody Bill is another highlight.
Paperfilms have produced numerous books via crowdfunding and Abbadon is just the latest example of why each campaign is successful.