In Review: Rough Riders: Ride or Die #2

Animated corpses and a knife wielding maid are only the tip of the iceberg as the heroes learn of impending horrors.

The cover: An old woman’s hand moves to read the Tarot cards before her: Annie for Death, Roosevelt for Justice, Edison for the Devil, Houdini is the Magician, and Jack is Strength. A candle creates a plume of smoke that writhes supernaturally around the cards, foreshadowing the one card the reader still holds upside down. That character’s identity is revealed only in the final pages of this issue. This is an excellent tease of things to come in this issue from illustrator Patrick Olliffe and colorist Gabe Eltaeb. Overall grade: A 

The story: The team was split up in the previous issue and writer Adam Glass picks up with each encountering different obstacles. In Providence, Rhode Island, H.P. Lovecraft is shocked to find President Theodore Roosevelt in his attic. Houdini breaks the young writer from his disbelief by introducing himself, since the two have corresponded. When Purgatory is brought up, Lovecraft again becomes frightened, but this prompts the president to slap him on the back and say, “Nothing makes a man feel more alive than a good old tangle with death.” The story then moves to Greenwich Village in New York City where Eastman is attacked by a German spouting maid with a knife. In a morgue, Oakley and Edison are looking at the runes written on a corpse’s feet when they discover that the other bodies in the room have risen and are coming for them. I was impressed to see that Glass wasn’t content to just have these be zombies, as the action on Page 6 proves. I really liked the large panel on 7 and the action in the third panel on 8. How the pair escape this relentless horde is impressive. When the characters reunite, for the first time since the previous series, I liked the no nonsense attitudes they had to solve the problems before them. I really liked the carriage house scenes, with the tension starting with its exterior and then upped considerably within it. If Page 16 wasn’t shocking enough, 18 will certainly be so. Lovecraft is officially introduced to the team on the penultimate page and he reveals himself on the final page to have an ability that most would not welcome. This issue features plenty of action and thrills, while moving the story forward at a good pace. Well done, Mr. Glass. Well done. Overall grade: A

The art: I’m always appreciative of artists who are able to capture the likenesses of famous people. Patrick Olliffe does so throughout this book. The first panel is an excellent introduction to Roosevelt and Lovecraft, with the frightened man shown in the president’s glasses. The three panels that close the page look down upon the characters, making the reader distant to them, much as the writer is feeling at the moment. Eastman’s battle with the angry maid is nice, with her looking ferocious, but not unbeatable. Since Eastman isn’t a fighter, it’s understandable that he would have difficulties with her. The panel that shows her leaping across the room on 3 is terrific. Also terrific is Johnson’s slow turn at the end of the page, suggesting he wouldn’t mind if something bad befell the criminal. Animated corpses in comics never get old, so I really enjoyed the pages with Oakley and Edison in peril. I was confused at the point of view in the second panel on 4; because it’s so close to the person, I initially assumed it to be the eye of the person being examined. The full paged splash on 5 is great and Oakley’s action on 6 awesome. I was surprised by the first visual on 7 with it making Sam Raimi proud. The Ick Factor increases sensationally on 9 with both characters involved in some gruesomeness. I loved the point of view in the fifth panel on 9. The walk to the carriage house was wonderfully ominous and what the group witnesses appropriately shocking. Having this shock showing the characters’ reactions rather than the action itself is a good way to define the characters: take note — one character is unmoved by this horrible deed. As shocking as this was, I was more impressed with the first two panels on 18. Again, Olliffe focuses on the characters, with all now showing some emotion, but the frenzy of the second panel is outstanding. The final page is a another full-paged splash and deservedly so, for it shows a person’s constant nightmare. My hat is always tipped to Olliffe for his fantastic work. Overall grade: A

The colors: Gabe Eltaeb gets stuck with a tough place to begin his work: in an attic. Given this dark locale he’s able to make the visuals clear with some clever coloring, employing grays and whites to vary the imagery but keep things visible. The maid’s attack receives some harsh oranges to intensify her actions. I like how her dialogue is given a sick green; not because it’s another language, but because something may not be right with her. The corpses attacking the pair in the morgue get some excellent faded flesh to show the reader they’ve long since left this world. Annie’s actions on 6 are explosive with orange, yellow, and reds. Take a gander at the excellent work Eltaeb has done with the dress on the character shown on 7 — excellent shading giving the character depth. The rusted reds on 18 add the perfect punch to what the reader sees. The final page has the character in the center of a mob stand out by muting the colors of the surrounding individuals. Eltaeb is always aces. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, sounds, a foreign language, screams, exclamations, yells, a handwritten name, and newspaper text are what the talented Sal Cipriano brought to this book. His scene settings always are visual reminders to the reader when this story takes place, as they resemble the text from newspapers of the time. There are several sounds in this issue for many different occasions, but I have to say that Annie’s guns are the highlights for me. The handwritten name is appropriately jagged, giving its creator an insane tone. With Cipriano on a book, a reader is always in good hands. Overall grade: A

The final line: Animated corpses and a knife wielding maid are only the tip of the iceberg as the heroes learn of impending horrors. Reading this Who’s Who of characters involved with the supernatural is tremendous fun. The action is well paced, the characterizations true, and the visuals top notch. This book succeeds in every possible way. Overall grade: A

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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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