In Review: Rough Riders: Riders on the Storm #6

Historical characters continue to shine as they defend America from a third English invasion.

The cover: Teddy Roosevelt blankets himself in the American flag as he walks away from an exploding ship. Fiery debris rains around him, but he’s indifferent to it as he’s done what’s best for his country. Great imagery from Patrick Olliffe and Gabel Eltaeb for this final issue of this series. Overall grade: A+

The story: “Strange Days” is an appropriate title from writer Adam Glass on this concluding installment. Aboard the HMS Dominion, Roosevelt has learned the identity of a presidential assassination — Queen Victoria! While the Rough Riders spend their time tracking down anarchists, the United Kingdom will wage a sneak attack on the United States. As the Queen says, “It’s time the empire take back the jewel of its crown.” She blasts the future president through the roof of her cabin with her power scepter, revealing to Roosevelt that in addition to her ship there’s a fleet of vessels — the Royal Navy, in fact — hidden behind Niagara Falls ready to take America down.  Meanwhile, the rest of the Rough Riders have discovered that Thomas Edison has been working with the anarchists and he’s unleashed an electrical storm in a room to take them out. However, Glass pulls an excellent surprise on the reader on Page 4. Though the danger has momentarily passed, there is some outstanding unfinished business between two of the heroes that is acknowledged, but left to be resolved in a future issue. This chapter’s focus is on the fight between the Queen and Roosevelt. Her scepter puts her far ahead of Roosevelt for power, though he is not without his own unique form of technology. Annie Oakley continues to steal scenes with being just flat out awesome, as demonstrated on Page 9, and having some of the best lines of the book, such as at the bottom of 10 and the top of 11. The escape from the ship is epic, but it’s the group’s farewells to one another that really resonate. Glass has some incredible action sequences in this book, but it’s the characters that keep this series running, and he’s completely faithful to each in the conclusion. The confrontation on the penultimate page is great, though the final page left me screaming for more. Mr. Glass, the next series cannot come soon enough. Well done, sir! Bully! Overall grade: A+

The art: Patrick Olliffe has the task of making each of the characters in this story look historically accurate, have the settings look realistic, and then having action sequences that would destroy a film’s budget. He wildly succeeds in all of these areas. The book begins with Roosevelt confronting the Queen, and her majesty’s mantle writhes about her spectacularly, so much so that she would be the envy of Spawn. When she lights up her scepter and wallops Roosevelt, the energy coming off this item is fantastic. I half expected Teddy to have burn marks on his face from such power. The reveal on Pages 2 and 3 is almost a double-paged spread, though there are two smaller panels on 3. The image that does cover both pages shows the British fleet and they look great. And I can’t forget to mention how cool Roosevelt looks as he’s emerging from the deck on 2. The point of view on the larger panel on 7 is great; just enough is shown to give the reader an idea of what’s occurring. The bottom of 9 contains one of my favorite panels of the book: Annie’s reaction to what she’s just done — outstanding! There’s also a terrific bit of motion with the first and second panels on 11, using the visuals to set up a very funny line. The close-up of the Queen on 12 is gloriously awful, and her change in emotion in the final panel excellent. The double-page splash of 14 and 15 is a spectacular climax to this story, with the characters looking awesome and the backgrounds explosive. The next two pages feature all the Riders saying their goodbyes, and Olliffe masterfully moves about them to keep their dialogue visually interesting. The final panel of the book features a handshake that left me screaming — Wow! Olliffe is outstanding. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: A company can do wrong in getting Gabe Eltaeb on a title and he does a bang-up job on this book. Eltaeb opens the book with a tease of the scepter by coloring it crimson, but when it powers up it’s pure white energy, with the backgrounds going a shocking red to amplify its abilities. Blues are used to perfection as Edison seeks to electrocute several characters, and the reds reappear when two of the heroes have some heated words. Cool blues and pinks are used to perfection when new technology is employed on Page 7, though the reds and oranges of the scepter continue to dominate on the following page. The colors of the Queen’s horrific close-up are fantastic, with darker colors used to place her in shadows and make her monstrous. Look at how well the sounds pop off the page due to their colors as well throughout the book. Somber violets make a shady alliance at the book’s close even darker. Eltaeb’s work enhances the visuals constantly. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Masterful Sal Cipriano creates scene settings, dialogue, yells, sounds, and narration perfectly. The scene settings are done in the type of the times, instantly transporting the reader into the time period before the story has even begun. There are many characters who yell in this issue and each gets the perfect font style and size to show the level of their bellow. I particularly like the Queen’s raging at the end of the first page and her final word on Page 2. The sounds are the show stoppers in this installment and they need to be because this is a violent climax filled with gunshots and explosions. Cipriano is the right letterer to make things go BOOM! Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Historical characters continue to shine as they defend America from a third English invasion. The story is exciting and fun, with the characters being faithful and fanciful, and the visuals are epic and thrilling. This is what comic books are all about! Recommended. Overall grade: A+

To purchase a digital copy go to http://aftershockcomics.com/on-sale-september-2017/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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