Rough Riders #1 through 7 and Rough Riders: Rider if the Storm #1 to 3
Publisher: Aftershock Comics LLC.
Writer: Adam Glass
Artist: Pat Olliffe
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Review by PeteR
Growing up, there were certain historical figures who loamed larger than life to me. Two of them were Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Houdini. I read any books I could find on them. As I grew older and gained a greater knowledge of history, much of the sheen had worn off these luminaries. Edmund Morris wrote a terrific, two volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt that chronicled his shortcomings as a father, soldier and politician while celebrating Roosevelt’s triumph over all adversities by force of will. Erik (or Ehrich) Weisz, who would eventually become Harry Houdini was obsessive about success while insecure due to his upbringing in poverty. The series, Rough Riders portrays Roosevelt and Houdini the way I would have wanted to imagine them when I was a kid, spectacular and kicking ass.
Rough Riders, the comic teams up Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, Annie Oakley, boxer Jack Johnson, Thomas Edison and gangster Edward (Monk) Eastman. The first story arc in issues 1 through 7 has the group fighting aliens during the Battle of San Juan Hill, hence the name Rough Riders. As an additional treat, the secret history of the Battle of Little Big Horn is revealed. The second story arc, Rough Riders; Rider of the Storm, takes place 3 years later when President McKinley was assassinated. The history books constantly refer to McKinley’s assassin as “a lone anarchist”. Rough Riders; Rider of the Storm so far, portrays Leon Czolosz as a piece in a much larger, dangerous and intriguing puzzle that could bring about nationwide extinction.
The writer for Rough Riders and Rough Riders; Rider of the Storm is Adam Glass. Glass is a television writer and producer who loves comic books. For Marvel he has written, among other titles, Luke Cage: Noir, Deadpool Team-up and Luke Cage: Origins. Glass has been able to convey the grandness of his characters’ historical personas while staying true to some of their less elegant facets. I particularly enjoy the portrayal of Roosevelt as a steam punk, class betraying detective. The banter between Houdini and Jack Johnson is a lot of fun. Thomas Edison, in his lifetime was a master at self-promotion and control of how is his was portrayed publically. Modern History has since shown that he was opportunistic and consumed with undermining Nicola Tesla. Adam Glass hits all of these points. My historical knowledge of Annie Oakley comes from the play Annie Get Your Gun and Wikipedia, so all I can say is Glass’s portrayal of her is how I wished she had been. I’m dying to see if he expands on the Rasputin subplot or just leaves it where it is.
Pat Olliffe pencils and inks both Rough Riders and Rough Riders; Rider of the Storm. Olliffe has been in the comic industry for a couple of decades and has drawn nearly every character there is in both the DC and Marvel stables. Rough Riders gives Olliffe an opportunity to parade his skills as an artist, whether it’s his rendering of historical figures, space aliens, mutated little girls or Houdini’s devices, Olliffe’s eye for detail is intense with intricateness. As a reader, I don’t often stop to analyze a particular artist’s use of cross hatching but with Olliffe’s work in Rough Riders I did.
The last couple of pages of Rough Riders issue #6 and 7 display the transition from script to fully colored and lettered pages. Gabe Eltaeb‘s coloring adds texture to the artwork while displaying the importance of letterer Sal Cipriano’s placement of captions and word balloons.
My only complaint with the series was the stand alone issue, Rough Riders Nation. The focus of this one shot is the high light who comprised the Rough riders in each succeeding generation. The problem with the premise is with every passing decade the choices gradually become less and less believable or interesting. The other challenge is each member of the new incarnations of the Rough Riders are involved solely due to being blackmailed for crimes or scandals they allegedly committed. I find it hard to imagine what skill sets Mae West, J.D. Salinger, Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley could bring to a national crisis. Feel free to skip that particular issue.
Why you should buy this book? I mentioned in a previous review that Greg Rucka’s Old Guard was my third favorite comic currently being published. Rough Riders is my second favorite title at this time. Rough Riders is more than just an American version of Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Moore used imaginary characters from popular fiction and was able to mold their personalities and actions as he saw fit. Rough Riders takes real people and places them in historical events but adds in imaginary circumstances while being true to the individuals’public personas and legacies.
Image comics started as a superhero line but eventually morphed into the company that creators could publish the stories they wanted to tell. Aftershock Comics is rapidly catching up to them as being the creator driven company for tales the Big Two wouldn’t dare touch. Rough Riders is the first title by Aftershock I picked up. I was sold by the concept but stayed for the story and art.