Monday, September 9, 2013

BATMAN #505 - March 1994

Blood Kin
:  Doug Moench (writer), Mike Manley (penciler), Bob Wiacek (inker), Ken Bruzenak (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Batman, while investigating the murder of a family, is suddenly beset by images of his father and St. Dumas.  They argue over Jean-Paul’s loyalties, and eventually St. Dumas stabs his father.  The vision ends, and Batman proceeds to investigate the murders.  He deduces that the killer is Arnold Etchison, the Abattoir.  Abattoir targets members of his own family, leading Batman to follow Abattoir’s cousin, Graham Etchison.  Etchison is attacked by Abattoir while doing charity work with orphaned children.  Batman rescues Etchison and the children, but is forced to allow Abattoir to escape.

Irrelevant Continuity:

  •  The Abattoir first appeared in Detective Comics #625.  (An “abattoir” is a slaughterhouse, apparently.)  As far as I can tell, in his previous appearances, Abattoir’s cousin Henry Etchinson used Abattoir to kill his wife.  Graham Etchison is Henry’s son.
  •  While talking to the image of St. Dumas, Jean-Paul defends his father by saying that the System brainwashed him into becoming a killer.  I have no idea what he’s talking about, but it's possible this is material covered in the original Sword of Azrael miniseries.
  •  Jean-Paul meets Leslie Tompkins for the first time, although their meeting is left off-panel.  (She’s in charge of the charity Graham Etchison is volunteering for.)
  •  Following his battle with Abattoir, Batman declares that he needs to upgrade his costume.  Using the System for guidance, he begins to design a new costume on the final page.
  •  The footnote on the final page says the story is continued in Shadow of the Bat #26.  The next story reprinted is actually Shadow of the Bat #25, which will present a different motivation for Batman’s new costume.

I Love the ‘90s:  One of the police officers arriving at the Abattoir’s murder scene references Unsolved Mysteries.

Review:  The Abattoir is another one of the serial killers introduced in the Batbooks back in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.  I’ve never heard of him before, and don’t see anything in this issue that elevates him past generic “grim and gritty” status.  His gimmick is that he murders members of his own family, and at this point in his career, he’s down to his cousin’s children.  Moench uses Abattoir’s family issues to segue into Jean-Paul’s own family problems, although this is all very vague for anyone unfamiliar with the Sword of Azrael miniseries. (Or maybe it's intentionally vague?)  The recurring appearances of Jean-Paul’s father and St. Dumas as hallucinogenic apparitions are getting old at this point, to be honest.  It’s already obvious that Jean-Paul is unbalanced, we don’t need to see him hallucinate repeatedly to get the point, and whatever character drama this is trying to develop just feels stale.  The Punisher is a dark, driven vigilante with a psychological profile worth exploring.  Jean-Paul Valley is a lunatic brainwashed into continuing the Crusades (or something) since childhood.  It’s hard to develop empathy for the character, and he rarely brings anything interesting to the stories.  Plus, his “dark nature” seems to be an excuse for the writers to keep wheeling out these monotonous serial killer villains, and that’s also getting old fast.

1 comment:

Teebore said...

Yeah, I love that Jean-Paul is motivated to redesign his costume after a run-in with another generic serial killer villain. Like, all the other villains his suit could handle, but a killer with a knife? Time for a redesign!

Like you, I first encountered Abattoir in this story, specifically the novelization of it, which meant I had no idea what he looked like.

Also, "abattoir" is one of those words I learned thanks to The Simpsons, from the episode where Homer orders subliminal weight loss tapes but ends up getting vocabulary-increasing tapes instead.

I can still hear it in Marvin Monroe's voice: "Abattoir: a slaughterhouse. The cow was killed in the abattoir."

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