Abattoir #5-6 (Radical)

Saw‘s Darren Lynn Bousman wraps up his haunted house horror story in bloody, sequel-baiting fashion.

 

28 pgs., color; $3.50 (each
(W: Rob Levin, Troy Peteri; A: Hugo Petrus, Wayne Nichols)
 
I’m a big fan of the haunted-house genre of horror. Besides having something of an architectural fetish, I love these tales because they provide so many opportunities for the author to cast a cloud of ambiguity around events in the story: are they ordinary occurrences, the perceptions of a disturbed mind, or genuine supernatural events? In the best stories, the author can have it all three ways, and work in some moral philosophy as well (e.g., unquiet spirits who can’t rest until some wrong has been righted).
 
One of the more enjoyable modern works in this genre that I’ve come across lately is Radical’s Abattoir series, which was created by Darren Lynn Bousman (of the Saw franchise) from a concept by Michael Peterson. The first Abattoir arc wraps up with issues #5 and 6, but a last-frame “gotcha” all but promises there will be future installments of this series. In case you missed issues #1-4, the setup is that a real estate agent named Richard Ashwalt has been given the unenviable task of selling a house where a particularly gruesome murder was committed. For most people that kind of history would lower the home’s value, but quite the opposite is true for Jebadiah Crone, whose appearance matches his name and who is extremely eager to purchase this particular house. Crone is a man who won’t take no for an answer, and as Richard (once a contented family man) becomes more involved with Crone and the house, his live goes rapidly downhill. In fact, the first thing we see in issue #5 is a newspaper headline accusing him of murder.
 
In issue #5, we also learn about the past history of Jebadiah Crone, then cut to the present time where Richard’s having a hard time distinguishing between reality and his own hallucinations. He comes across Crone’s house, which is even creepier than the murder house that set Richard and Crone on a collision course (“every staircase…down, not up”), and confronts an aspect of his past that he has been blocking out. Issue #6 continues with Richard’s (and our) confusions between reality and the products of his disordered mind, and it gets quite bloody, totally living up to the “mature readers” designation which the series carries.
 
Much as I like the series, I found the concluding issues of Abattoir to be a little disappointing. They feel rushed, and rely too much on the good will of the reader to accept what they are given and overlook the sketchiness of the final issue in particular. The art remains a strong point of the series—the fully-painted style goes a long way towards creating the creepy atmosphere which makes this kind of story work—but there’s a definitely drop-off of inventiveness in issue 6, as if Wayne Nichols and his team just wanted to get done and move on to their next assignment. Abattoir has “movie pitch” written all over it, and it’s the kind of story which would translate well to screen, so I hope we get to see this story on the big screen as well. | Sarah Boslaugh

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