Abattoir #1 (Radical Comics)

The twisted mind behind Saws II through IV crafts the story of a real estate agent desperate to unload a murder house and the unusual client who wants in on the deal.


32 pgs., color; $3.99
(W: Rob Levin & Troy Peteri; A: Bing Cansino)
Darren Lynn Bousman, who wrote the script for Saw II and directed Saw III and Saw IV, is turning his hand to comics with the six-issue Abattoir series from Radical Publishing. The first issue feels very much like the beginning of a slasher film in comic format, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when it’s as well done as it is in this case.
The story is set in the always-scary milieu of 1980s suburbia, and opens with a prologue in which an apparently ordinary father goes nuts with a string trimmer and a carving knife at his kid’s birthday party (which includes a clown, almost obligatory given the genre precedents). Copious blood is shed and a few weeks later we’re in the main story, which involves real estate agent Richard Ashwalt, who hasn’t closed many deals lately (shades of David’s Mamet’s classic 1984 play Glengarry Glen Ross) and has been saddled with trying to sell the house where the horrors of the prologue took place.
Desperate men will do desperate things, and after a few drinks with a buddy and an argument with his wife, Ashwalt decides to check the place out, strictly unofficially and after hours. The combination of alcohol, guilt and the house’s history provide some good scares, although several would work great on film but make little sense within the frames of a comic. I imagine we’ll be seeing Abattoir: The Movie before long. More to the point, the house is not empty: a creepy guy named Jebediah Crone is there and offers to buy the house at 15% above the list price if he can take possession immediately. Richard plays the straight arrow and turns down the offer, but his boss is less concerned with proprieties and tells him 1) a local legend regarding a man who only buys properties where someone has died and 2) to close the deal, post-haste. Several other interesting things happen and the issue ends on a cliff-hanger which establishes the theme that it’s easier to get into a deal with the devil than it is to get back out again.
The art (by Bing Cansino, with coloring by Andrei Pervukhin) is realistic and resembles storyboards for a movie. It’s also much more realistic than the cover, which suggests a horror-comedy rather than the straight-up product which Abattoir delivers. The prologue is all sun-drenched suburbia until the killings start, at which point the sun seems to have moved behind a major cloud bank as the frames become as dark as the deeds portrayed within them. The real estate office is presented in washed-out greens and grays (totally appropriate for a cube farm, independent of the effects of fluorescent lighting) while the literal darkness of the murder house (whose electricity has conveniently been cut off) provides plenty of opportunities for creepy effects of the type that are scary and fun at the same time. You just know that there’s lots more delicious creepiness to come over the remaining five issues: what this series lacks in originality it makes up for with execution. You can see a preview of Abattoir #1 here: http://www.radicalpublishing.com/titles/comics/abattoir?series_id=20&issue_id=110. | Sarah Boslaugh

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