Credits: Doug Moench (writer), Mike Manley (penciler), Joseph Rubenstein (inker), Ken Bruzenak (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)
Summary: Batman races to a warehouse owned by the Etchison family, while Robin uses the Batcave computer to research Abattoir’s most likely hideout. Robin arrives just in time to see Batman chasing the Abattoir into a foundry near the warehouse. Inside the foundry, Batman leaves Abattoir dangling above a vat of liquid metal. Batman has a vision of his father and St. Dumas arguing over Abattoir’s life. Paralyzed by indecision, he doesn’t move as Abattoir falls to his death. Robin watches below. Later, Graham Etchison is killed by Abattoir’s torture device, while Batman weeps in the Batcave.
Review: Batman’s inner monologue assures on the first page that “Gunhawk can wait.” This week, he’s back to chasing the Abattoir. Reading all of these issues in a row, it’s hard not to laugh at Batman’s sporadic interest in the Abattoir case. Of course, he’s only veering back and forth because one of the titles isn’t participating at all in the story, while the other is only doing so halfheartedly, but it’s still a clumsy transition. I don’t understand why this arc couldn’t have been contained to Batman while the other books pursued other stories, unless DC simply felt that tighter continuity between the titles would help to sell the overall event. (And judging by the finished product, the continuity is far from “tight.”)
Moench opens the issue with yet another reminder that Jean-Paul is not qualified to be Batman, as he nearly runs over a prostitute while en route to the Abattoir’s hideout. And, just a few pages later, Robin helpfully points out that Jean-Paul either doesn’t know or care that he’s leading more people into the Abattoir’s path by chasing him into the foundry. But I guess the final nail in Jean-Paul’s career as Batman comes when he allows Abattoir to die during one of his schizophrenic freak outs. When Robin finally rats Jean-Paul out, this is the offense that turns Bruce Wayne against him. Perhaps this story has meandered so long in order to reach this point in this specific month, allowing Abattoir’s death to be fresh on the readers’ minds as Bruce Wayne returns in this month’s Robin.
As the breaking point in Jean-Paul’s career as Batman, it’s pretty weak. We already know Jean-Paul is seeing visions, and we already know he’s cavalier towards human life, so this doesn’t seem like much of an escalation. If anyone had to die due to Jean-Paul’s incompetence, thank God it was the Abattoir! And it’s not as if Jean-Paul even decided to go Charles Bronson on the twisted serial killer; the guy died merely because Jean-Paul was having a psychotic episode, not out of willful malice. I think Jean-Paul’s worse crime is not investigating the warehouse and finding Graham Etchison -- the person he’s been allegedly trying to rescue for the past three months. And even if Jean-Paul’s too out of it to search the place, why didn’t Robin? It seems to me that he has more to answer for than Jean-Paul in this case.