An abattoir is defined as “a building where animals are butchered.” For suburban real estate agent Richard Ashwalt, his latest property resembles, at least on the inside, a slaughterhouse. The “animals” butchered there were highly evolved ones though. The Mitchell family was slaughtered by their father, who suddenly and violently went on a murderous rampage during his son’s ninth birthday party. For Ashwalt, who’s having problems selling any properties (most likely because he really isn’t into his job—he’s an “almost former cop”), trying to sell a property that was recently the setting of a multiple homicide isn’t what Ashwalt needs right now. When he and a fellow real estate agent Patrick Merrick pay a late night visit to the now empty Mitchell home, Ashwalt meets the mysterious Mr. Jebediah Crone, a very peculiar potential buyer. It seems that Mr. Crone is a bit of an urban legend. He buys up, on the spot, properties where violent deaths have occurred and then isn’t seen around until the next property to suffer such grim events beneath its roof enters the market…and he doesn’t take no for an answer…
Created by Darren Lynn Bousman (director of the Saw franchise), written by Rob Levin and Troy Peteri, and illustrated by Michael Peterson, Abattoir is yet another creepy, gory, and unsettling tale from one of the fastest rising publishers of horror/sci-fi comics: Radical Comics. Abattoir is decidedly less heavy on the dark fantasy/sci-fi look than several of its other titles such as Ryder on The Storm, The Rising, Shrapnel, and Driver for the Dead. Set in the late 1980s, Abattoir has the look and feel of a late 1980s horror or slasher film. The mundane suburban setting (which has been, for quite some time, one of the most ripe settings for satirizing or horrifying), serves as a backdrop for a bloody mass killing and the strange old man who buys up the properties where such events occur. This suburban setting, which is making a serious comeback in newer horror films, recalls the look and feel of the aforementioned slasher films of the 1980s. The odd look of the strange and creepy property buyer, Mr. Crone, also harkens back to the odd looking characters that populated such films with his bad hair, wizened appearance, and creepy suits. Something sinister is afoot here, and “almost former cop” Ashwalt will have his hands full dealing with not only the Mitchell property, but Mr. Crone himself.
One of the best things about Abattoir, besides the excellent character development, art, and atmosphere, is the fact that it is a six issue miniseries. Recently, most of Radical Comics’ titles have been rather costly three issue affairs. While the stories have been great, they’ve ended quite quickly. Abattoir might end up being similar in length to Radical Comics’ other titles in page count, drawing out the story over six months as opposed to simply three, but Levin and Peteri will really have the opportunity to build the suspense and mystery month to month over the extended publishing time.
Speaking of the artwork, Bing Cansino does an excellent job of bringing this whole affair to bloody life. His depictions of facial expressions are realistic and horrifying when necessary, and his detail (in all its goriness) is spot on. Like most of Radical Comics’ books though, Abattoir is a very dark affair color wise. Several pages nearly drown in black, but the darkness in the panels excellently offset the scant colors added in by series colorist Pervukhin. The secret artistic ingredient in all of Radical Comics’ books, the ingredient that really puts them in unique visual territory, is the coloring work. Pervukhin keeps the tradition alive in Abattoir.
Overall, Abattoir is another worthy offering from a worthy publisher of some of the most visually striking, and creepy, comic books in the industry. Nearly all of Radical Comics’ books are worth reading for the art and story, Abattoir isn’t an exception. It’s simply another example of the type of high quality work being done at Radical Comics.