In Review: Rough Riders #4

Thrilling, funny, and absolutely entertaining. Saddle up!

The cover: Thomas Edison raises his fists high with a yell as electricity erupts from the wires in each of his hands. Below him is a figure on the floor, seemingly covered in blood. Could Edison finally be showing his true self to the reader, or is he no longer going to be belittled by others? Patrick Olliffe is the artist and Gabe Eltaeb the colorist on this electric cover. The point of view of this is good, as it makes it seem as if the inventor is screaming at God as he holds the energy above him. On top of that, this event actually occurs in this issue; covers are about 50-50 for showing a real scene from the book on the front, and I prefer when the cover shows something from the story. The colors are also sweet, with the blues and whites making this a bright cover. Great job, all around. Overall grade: A

The story: There were three cliffhangers in the previous issue of Rough Riders. The first that writer Adam Glass addresses is Annie Oakley being shot in the chest. Theodore Roosevelt rushes to her attacker, who now turns his pistol on him. The future president takes a shot in the shoulder before disarming the assailant in a very clever way. I was very surprised with how the second page ends, given that this was a fairly tense action sequence, but it’s the perfect climax for the action, and it did make me laugh out loud. The reveal at the top of Page 3 wasn’t too much of a surprise, given that character’s background it was obvious that the individual would have something like that on their person. That said, the bottom of 3 is a great reveal — with a horrific insect crawling out of the antagonist’s ear, as if it was trying to get back to Ceti Alpha V. Glass then goes to a different location, San Juan Heights, where Jack Johnson and Harry Houdini have been strung up by Rasputin, who caught them last issue. One of the characters should have an easier time than the other escaping from handcuffs while upside down, and that person gets to work quickly. The third cliffhanger involved Edison and what he saw last issue: a laser shooting across the valley. He rushes into the room where Roosevelt is and almost gets himself shot. Once he’s appraised of the situation, Edison thinks he may have a solution, which ties in with this issue’s cover. This issue’s title is “The Bull Moose” and it’s an appropriate one as Teddy gets the most character growth. This occurs primarily on Page 9 when he’s given some information that makes him grit his teeth. Page 17 has another character giving him words, leading him to make a decision shown on 19 and 20. I’m liking this man’s gumption. This issue is also important for revealing what the threat is that the group is fighting, which is told by Edison and Roosevelt. It’s a great premise and I’m all over  it. As much as I enjoyed this, what Houdini discovers is even better. Pages 14 and 18 are stellar and they truly took this story out of this world. Okay, Mr. Glass. Please continue your tale. I want more. Overall grade: A

The art: This book’s visuals depend on the artist being able to create characters that resemble famous characters from history. If this doesn’t occur, the book will crumble. Patrick Olliffe has things well in hand with his renderings of the characters and their settings. Even if one is vaguely familiar with history, a reader will instantly be able to identify Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Edison. Watching the actions on Page 5 of a particular character, his identity would also be easy to ascertain. Olliffe can capture likenesses very well. Additionally, he’s able to make the actions of the Rough Riders believable and dramatic. Take a look at the first panel on the first page as Teddy comes running into the room. He looks great as he sprints in, visually aided by his jacket splaying out behind him. Look at the antagonist’s pose: calm, holding a smoking gun above Annie’s body. The first three panels on 2 are a solid action sequence that would do a famous archaeologist proud. The final panel on the same page has the character silent, but speaking volumes with his posture. The point of view of the panel that bleeds from 4 onto 5 is great, with me mentally adding in the sound of a breeze and wood straining. Page 11 is the first full paged splash of the issue and it’s a great “in your face” illustration designed to shock the reader, and it succeeds. The last page is also a splash, and it shows one character wearing something unexpected, yet completely thrilling. My favorite panel of the book is on 14, showing a new character in a bizarre situation. It’s a jaw dropping illustration, because it’s completely unexpected. This book looks good. Overall grade: A 

The colors: A publisher cannot go wrong with Gabe Eltaeb doing the colors. The first panel is a done in the serious, stately colors of a politician’s room. However, Eltaeb doesn’t go for a blanket color — look at how the colors on the carpet are lighter in the foreground, bringing the reader’s eye to them, which leads the reader to the body on the floor. Very smart. Eltaeb colors the pages appropriately, but is smart enough to know where to lead the reader, such as with a small, but effective, reflection of light in the second panel on 3. Take a look at the power he puts into the energy that Edison wields: it demonstrates strength in its discharge and that Edison is insane for employing it. The color green comes into play in the last half of the book and that’s the color that I’ll remember from this issue, as will the character at the bottom of Page 18. Of all the colors, Eltaeb is gold. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, sounds, dialogue, scene settings, character identification, laughter, and yells are created by Sal Cipriano. It’s always neat to see when the text of book enhances its effect upon the reader. How is this possible? Take a look at two specific fonts that Cipriano uses. The scene settings of this book are done in a manner to match that of a typewriter, a device that was prevalent at the turn of the century. Using this font helps set the book in its time period. The character identification balloons are done in a font that resembles newspaper text, which is fitting since these characters were in the papers during their days. As with the scene settings, this makes this tale seem more like an actually piece of history. Cipriano not only tells the story, he sets it in time. Overall grade: A

The final line: Rough Riders is a bold adventure with American history’s finest at the turn of the century fighting evil in all shapes and forms. Thrilling, funny, and absolutely entertaining. Saddle up! Overall grade: A

To learn more about Rough Riders go to http://aftershockcomics.com/

To purchase a digital copy of this book go to https://www.comixology.com/Rough-Riders-4/digital-comic/371983

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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