Review by Sarah Boslaugh
The first thing I have to say about Abattoir #4 is that the cover by Tae Young Choi is really, really cool. It’s a portrait of Jebediah Crone, the creepy guy with a taste for homes in which murders have been committed, done Chuck Close style so the picture of Crone is made up of a whole lot of little pictures. If you choose to step back, metaphorically speaking, you see an image of a guy who would make you run the other way if you spotted him in a dark alley, or maybe even in broad daylight. If you look more closely you see the separate images of a lot of souls in torment, and if you’ve been following the Abattoir series, it’s not hard to imagine that they are Crone’s victims, or at least the people who were murdered on the properties he has purchased.
The second thing I have to say is that middle issues are always tough to do well, but this one accomplishes the dual purposes of increasing our knowledge of the characters and their circumstances while also ratcheting up the tension, which will be resolved in the sixth and final issue of the series. Like a film noir character, suburban father and real estate agent Richard Ashwalt has been plunged into a world of horrors through no fault of his own. He was assigned to sell a house in which a horrific murder was committed, and this brought him into contact with Jebediah Crone, who seems to have a thing for the locales of evil deeds and won’t take no for an answer. Richard wants nothing to do with Crone, but the pitiless wheels of fate have been set in motion and Richard soon finds himself accused of a murder, estranged from his family, and wondering if he’s losing his mind as well.
In issue #4, Richard visits a woman who filed a restraining order against Crone and acquires more useful information about what he may really be after. Research at the Hall of Records provides more clues, and Richard is also visited by nightmares (or are they?) portrayed graphically enough to please any horror fan. There’s even a Laura reference, as well, for you film noir fans. The art is semi-realistic and bears a strong resemblance to movie storyboards (no surprise there—Abattoir was created by Darren Lynn Bousman of Saw fame and seems custom-designed for film adaptation), but also works well as a serial comic. If there’s a deficit on the slow-building tension side (and there is—the storyboarding style really doesn’t lend itself to mood creation), this is compensated for by some action frames which really pop. The coloring by Andrei Pervukhin and Drazenka Kimpel is particularly good—it’s dark enough to be creepy, but not so dark that all the detail is lost, and the palette shifts according to location and point of view.