In Review: Rough Riders: Riders on the Storm #5

The Rough Riders never fail to please in their adventures.

The cover: Meet the newest enemy of the Rough Riders — Thomas Edison! This electrifying reveal occurred last issue, so artist Patrick Olliffe and colorist Gabe Eltaeb are spotlighting this traitor on this cover. Edison holds a massive gun of his own creation. I would have liked to have seen the focus more on the character than the building behind him, but this is still a solid cover, with the colors making this cover bold. Overall grade: B

The story: The heroes look on in shock as Edison and the anarchists disappear on their boat behind Niagara Falls. Realizing they have to follow, they quickly strip to their skivvies, with Annie not doing so. When asked what she’s doing, she replies, “Enjoying the show.” She keeps her stolen nun’s attire on and joins her comrades in the water. They swim through the waterfall to discover a huge ship flying the Union Jack. Roosevelt tells the rest of the team to go after Edison while he investigates on his own. Writer Adam Glass has a great confrontation among the heroes, with one member realizing that the truth about something has been withheld. This starts on page 6 and runs through 11. This is a character defining moment for not only the one who wants the truth, but the one who delivers it. Page 10 is truly touching as the character momentarily crumbles, but the page that follows builds that character up and has all the heroes reveal something of themselves. This is great writing. Roosevelt discovers something in a cabin that’s not revealed to reader, except that he’s a surprisingly good fighter. The team does encounter Edison and his motivations are revealed and it’s shockingly, and sadly, timely, considering what’s going on in the United States. And “shocking” is the right word, as the inventor’s use of energy proves to be important in fighting the protagonists. The final three pages reveal who the true threat is of this series, with it starting comically on Page 18, but turns a little more serious on 19 and 20. I’m left at a loss of words at who is shown on 18, and it did seem a little too silly, but the final page left me excited to see where this series will next go. Overall grade: A- 

The art: Patrick Olliffe is a great artist for this series, capturing the likenesses of the famous characters and creating settings that seem believable, based on actual locations or Olliffe’s imagination. The first panel shows the heroes reacting to seeing Edison and it demonstrates Olliffe’s expertise: they resemble their namesakes and they look shocked, save one team member who’s anger is unmistakable. The slow disappearance of the ship into the falls is well done, creating movement with a static illustration. Annie’s reaction to the men stripping is fun, given her stance, and the joy on her face before she joins them in the water will create a mirror image on any reader. The double-paged splash on 4 and 5 is absolutely appropriate and is staggering due to the object’s size. Page 6 features a character’s visceral anger and it looks great. How that character shows their anger on the two pages that follow are dramatic, especially with the second panel on 7 and the final panel on the same page. The realization at the end of 9 is perfect, and the large panel on 10 flawlessly matching the text. Roosevelt makes his way through the ship wearing only his boxers and it’s an incredibly manly way for the manly future president to traverse enemy territory. When Edison is confronted, there’s a neat effect accomplished initially with a reaction rather than a full visual, but it’s enhanced by the full-paged splash on 17 that shows the inventor’s full power. The final page of the book is also a splash and it’s the perfect image to end this issue, leaving readers stunned and curious. The look of joy on the character is so deviant. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Gabe Eltaeb begins this book with a beautiful blue sky behind the heroes in the first panel. It’s an excellent color to highlight the characters’ faces. The masks of the anarchists have an eerie green to set them apart from the only unmasked character, Edison. A precursor to the fight that starts on Page 6 is the bright red that outlines the sound of a door closing; Eltaeb makes all the sounds on this book bold with his colors. When the character on 6 gets a major close-up, orange and red explode in the background. When blood flies it’s a strong crimson that cannot be mistaken for anything else. When realization comes upon the character on 9, the background again goes orange and red, but for a different, violent reason. The character’s eyes also go orange to emphasize their loss. When the truth is finally revealed, a calm blue takes over the background, signifying emotions becoming calm. Yellow is used nicely to show an unseen action on 16 and the sound effect that accompanies it shares the same color. A pea green is used for a screen on 18 and 19 to have the reader experience the sickness that Roosevelt feels. This color gives way to royal purple in the end, which is the symbolic color of a specific class of people. Excellent work by Eltaeb, as always. Overall grade: A

The letters: Narration, dialogue, sounds, scene settings, gasps, yells, the true villain’s name, and the tease for next issue come to life from Sal Cipriano. I cannot praise the scene settings enough as they resemble the common font used in publications of the time period, allowing the reader to become comfortable in this era. The sounds are bold, especially at the end when Edison is confronted. However, it’s the font used on the final page for the antagonist’s name that bewitched me, as it’s absolutely befitting the character. Cipriano is aces. Overall grade: A

The final line: Fiction and history continue to collide as the search for anarchist assassins reveals a plot to take over America. The premise is fun, the characters entertaining, and the visuals outstanding. The Rough Riders never fail to please in their adventures. 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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