I’ve been meaning to try some of the comics from AfterShock for a while now. They have some interesting-sounding titles, but it appeared they only sold them digitally, and I just can’t bring myself to read longer trades that way if I can help it. I’d just rather hold a comic book in my hand.
Then I discovered they do hard copy trades. That led me to the first volume of Rough Riders, subtitled Give Them Hell.
The year is 1898 and Theodore Roosevelt is some kind of Batman-type figure for the city of New York. However, the U.S.S. Maine was just sunk off the coast of Cuba and that could (and will) lead to war with Spain if something isn’t done. Roosevelt is pressured by the city’s four richest men to gather a team and investigate because they have photographic proof that the Spanish weren’t responsible. Something else was…
Roosevelt’s team plays out like a historic version of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: African American boxer Joe Johnson, escape artist and magician Harry Houdini, old crank inventor Thomas Edison, and alcoholic sharpshooter Annie Oakley. New York gangleader Monk Eastman is also there for about a minute and a half, basically long enough to get on the trade’s cover. Their mission will take them to Cuba where Roosevelt will make the necessary charge up San Juan Hill, but there is a lot more going on beneath the surface, something Roosevelt knows a little about, but most of his companions know nothing of. There’s steampunk and weird sci-fi concepts to this one.
Writer Adam Glass does OK here. He’s no Alan Moore, but most people aren’t. Artist Patrick Olliffe is also OK, but this may be a case where, even though the book wasn’t bad, it by its nature it invites comparison to Moore’s Extraordinary Gentlemen. As such, let’s say eight out of ten mystery Russians. I think the premise alone gives this one a but of a bonus.