Slaughterman’s Creed tells the story of Sidney, the slaughterman of the title. Sidney works for a big time London gangster, Lenny Addison. It’s a position where the job description is pretty much covered by the job title. Duties include, torture to gain confessions and information, disembowelments, finishing the victims off, chopping them into little bits to allow those bits to be sent off to rivals as warnings. It’s a dirty job, but as they say, someone has to do it.
Slaughterman’s Creed comes in full and graphic colour from the creative team behind 2009’s excellent Cancertown, writer Cy Dethan and artist Stephen Downey. Cancertown was a huge and deserved success, so much so that it is/has being re-released.
Sidney lives for his job; it’s all he’s known, all that he is and all that he wants to be. He comes from a long line of slaughtermen, and was raised to do one thing and one thing only, to follow in their footsteps and continue the family business and tradition.
The very nature of the business makes it a solitary one. It’s not the sort of profession that you can moan about down the pub after a long day. There are no slaughterman societies where you can share anecdotes with your peers over a drink.
Sidney is the last of his kind in a world that is changing. He ploughs a lonely furrow, only him and his duties. His moral compass comes in his adherence to the Slaughterman’s Creed passed down from generation to generation. It is this devotion to the Creed that sparks the events that bring Sidney’s world crashing down around him and sets this story in motion.
Given the job that Sidney carries out, it’s a premise that could easily have seen Slaughterman’s Creed become another brain free foray into torture porn a la the later episodes of the Saw film franchise and others of its ilk. The creators never allow that though. On first read you’ll think that this is a tale not for the faint of stomach. A second reading will show that you think you saw an awful lot more than you did.
While you could hardly claim that is shies away from the gory reality of its subject, it certainly never lingers any longer than it needs to, or exploits the deeds of the slaughterman. This refusal to take the easy, gratuitous option is one of the books strengths and by doing so allows the reader to create a far darker and more unsettling world in their own mind.
This tale belongs more to the world of the British underworld; the original Get Carter is a fitting comparison. Grim and unrelenting, it’s a million miles away from the cartoon world of something like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
At the heart of the book is the death of the old ways, where the criminals at least have a code of honour and their replacement with the new more ruthless breed.
It’s there in Sidney’s refusal to carry out a certain deed. Even though we are told he had done worse in different circumstances. He knows fine well what will happen, but his adherence to the Creed, to doing what he sees as the right thing, are more important to him to than his job and, potentially, his life.
When he does escape, the inevitable chase ensues and when this fails, his old boss looks for someone like Sidney. Of course, there is no one like Sidney left and there are no other options but to look for his modern equivalent.
It’s here that the clash between the old and the new is at its most stark. The nearest thing they can find to Sidney is a nightmarish vision of hallucinogenic drugs and tattooed skin. He kills for the rush it gives him and for that alone. He only works with criminals because they provide a steady supply of victims and offer protection from the police.
The Green Man is also a pawn of Lewis a younger, ambitious gangster who has plans to replace Addison. The new guy is vicious and has plans, he sees Addison as a relic, someone and something that belongs in the past.
The Green Man sets off in pursuit of Sidney and his companion and manages, or so it seems, to do what several henchman couldn’t, that is to kill him. Of course, nothing is quite what it seems.
It’s here that Slaughterman’s Creed introduces a plot point that is integral to the fate of all of the major players in the story. It steps forward twelve years in time.
Nothing wrong per se in that, but it forgets to take its characters with it. In the underworld Addison stills holds control, with Lewis still plotting to take over and The Green Man still killing for pleasure under the protection of the gangsters.
It’s slightly incongruous that in such a long period of time nothing has changed at all and it does nag a little when you’ve finished the book. Not least because otherwise Slaughterman’s Creed barely puts a foot wrong.
You can get past it though and if you go with the flow then you get a richly satisfying ending to the tale. It would spoil it to tell you more, but you can rest assured that the Slaughterman’s Creed and all that entails did not die with Sidney.
Overall a dark and engrossing story with vivid artwork. Not as explicit as you think, it doesn’t need to resort to gratuitous gore for its thrills.
Slaughtermans Creed is published by Markosia Enterprises