Posts tagged Criminal Macabre

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Review: Final Night #4 of 4

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Writing: Steve Niles

Art:  Christopher Mitten

Review by Melissa Megan

Cal McDonald and Eben Olemaun have been battling it out in the middle of Los Angeles. Eben is out for revenge after the murder of his wife, Stella, by creating an army of vampires and feasting on the human race. He sells this plan to his followers by convincing them that vampires should no longer hide in the shadows of night but become the superior race on earth, knocking humans down on the food chain. Cal is now among the world of ghouls, walking and fighting but not necessarily living. He’s been tormented by a black vomit illness since his ‘change’ and struggles to maintain the strength needed to defeat the vampire leader and save the human race.

Final Night is the final issue of the Criminal Macabre/ 30 Days of Night crossover and writer Steve Niles has declared that only one of the series will survive when it’s over. I’m not a spoiler type, but I will tell you that I’m very happy about the outcome.

Cal pulls himself out of the rubble, entrails and organs on the floor, ready to keep kicking ass. That is what the man does best, at the sacrifice of his own physical and mental well being. It’s obvious to his best ghoul buddy, Mo’Lock, that he won’t be sticking around for much longer in his current condition and Mo’Lock is determined to do anything he can to save Cal. Blood is required to heal his already dead body, but who’s blood? And how much?

Meanwhile, Eben has released his army upon the Los Angeles night, beginning with the busy party strip. They feast, tear and demolish their way through the crowds, hungry for destruction and blood. Eben has Detective Alice Blood, Cal’s love interest, and knows that Cal will come for her. The two leaders will soon come face to face with their armies; ghouls versus vampires. Only one side can win this fight and there’s no doubt blood will be shed.

I’ve been reading Criminal Macabre for years, it’s one of my top favorite series. 30 Days of Night is also quality work, just not as much of a draw for me as the big, rag tag personality of Cal McDonald. Steve Niles has pulled off this crossover with skill, managing to let the two main characters meet and go to war without diminishing the power of either. These are two bad ass dudes, each with their own personal agendas and commitments to their cause. Christopher Mitten’s art has been a treat and a perfect companion to this story. I’ve very much enjoyed seeing the two clash and I think the conclusion of Final Night will satisfy readers, regardless of who you were hoping to see come out on top.

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Review: Criminal Macabre: Final Night- 30 Days of Night Crossover #2

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Writing: Steve Niles

Art: Christopher Mitten

Issue #2 of the Criminal Macabre / 30 Days of Night crossover continues the clash of Cal Mcdonald, hunter of everything supernatural and evil, and vampire leader Eben Olemaun. Eben is building  a huge army of blood sucking monsters in hopes of taking over the world from humans. Cal and his ghoul sidekick, Mo’Lock, have teamed up with a pretty female FBI agent named Alice Blood. For the first time, Cal is actually getting some assistance from law enforcement, mostly because the vampires have been massacring agents and police officers all over L.A.

Cal is a ghoul now and having some challenges adjusting to that, but it hasn’t stopped him from carrying on his business or living hard. Eben Olemaun is kicking ass inside his circle to reclaim the remains of his wife and to express his rage over her death on the human race. Very soon, these two will clash and the battle will be ugly.

Crossovers are a tough thing in comic books; stories are not written to melt in to each other and combining them often takes something away from one or the other. This combination is working, maybe because the backdrop of supernatural power struggles are so similar in Criminal Macabre and 30 Days of Night. The personalities of Cal McDonald and Eben Olemaun are both intense and raw, there can only be an explosion when the two are brought together.

Steve Niles has been rumored to say that only one of these characters (and their series) will survive this crossover. Personally, I’m betting on Cal McDonald and Mo’Lock. I’ve been a fan of the Criminal Macabre series for years and it would be a terrible loss to comics to see his story end. Do you hear me, Steve? Let Cal live!

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Review: Criminal Macabre- The Iron Spirit

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Cal McDonald is back, sort of, and ready to take on a new job of ghoul, monster and or spirit hunting. He’s a little worse for wear, a little more ‘living dead’, and struggling to find his old self in this new situation. The old routine of drink and drugs doesn’t seem to have the same effect anymore, he can’t sleep and everything just feels weird. Good thing the world never runs out of creepy bad guys for him to chase around.

When Air Force Captain Richard Clayton shows up at Cal’s door, looking old, tired and beat up, Cal is happy to get back to the grind and hopefully make a few bucks. Clayton is war torn, but what really weighs on his soul are the bitter spirits that have him fearing for his life and desperate. He takes Cal to a secret underground bunker where what appears to be a horribly failed government weapons project left several very angry spirits behind, looking for some level of pay back for their pain, suffering and death. Angry spirits are Cal McDonald’s specialty, but these ones have a heartbreaking story and Cpt. Clayton requests that they be handled with care. Cal also finds himself faced with the guilt and sadness of the old man, which lends a heavy air of melancholy to this particular story.

Steve Niles teams up with artist Scott Morse (comic artist & Pixar designer) and it works beautifully. Criminal Macabre has always been one of my favorite series from Niles, but this one has a real touch of emotion to it that I found gave it real depth. Cal McDonald is a gruff, rough edged character with many personal flaws and The Iron Spirit really touched on those while at the same time shining light on his empathetic, softer side.

Criminal Macabre, The Iron Spirit is a must have addition to your collection if you’re an established fan and a great starter story if you’re curious to dip your toes in to the adventures of Cal McDonald. Steve Niles is a fantastic, creative writer who never puts out something less than top quality and his Criminal Macabre books have utilized the talents of several artists over the years, this one being no exception. I definitely recommend picking up The Iron Spirit, which is available now, from Dark Horse Comics.

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Review: Criminal Macabre Omnibus Volume 2

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Writer: Steve Niles

Artist: Kyle Hotz, Nick Stakal, Casey Jones

Colorist: Michelle Madsen

Cover Artist: Fiona Staples

Ah, Cal McDonald. The cranky, drug-addled hunter of supernatural miscreants. I’m going to assume that most of you are familiar with Criminal Macabre already, and if you’re not, well you need to remedy that, ASAP. Criminal Macabre is one of those classic indie titles that swims with the likes of Preacher, Hellblazer and Hell Boy. It’s just way more fun to battle with ghosts, vampires, werewolves, ghouls and various otherworldly evils when the hero is a little rough around the edges, showing his own battle scars, often self inflicted. And don’t forget Mo’Lock, Cal’s always composed but never quite dead, ghoulish side kick. Mo’Lock always shows up unannounced, ready to assist in whatever way he can, even if that means giving Cal a good ass kicking to get him back on his feet.

This trade collects Criminal Macabre Volumes 4-6, the one-shot story Feat of Clay, “The Creepy Tree” and “The Trouble with Brains” from MySpace Dark Horse Presents, and “Hairball” from Dark Horse Presents #102-#105. There are so many great stories in this book and personally I always find a little extra satisfaction having my favorite works collected in TPB or hard cover. They just look pretty on the shelf and it’s easier to brag about your collection when you can just point and smile. This is 368 pages of pure fun, fantastic horror writing and edgy artwork.

I think my personal favorite in this collection is Two Red Eyes. This particular story starts with Cal getting the living shit beat out of him by a powerful local official with police ties, his girlfriend being hunted by an ancient vampire and a legion of ghouls showing up to be his own personal army. The story reveals Cal’s lowest lows; his ability to love is still alive and well, if buried deep below a thick layer of pills and alcohol. The art is gritty and heavy, but realistically detailed.

Criminal Macabre Omnibus Volume 2 is available now through Dark Horse comics. This is, most definitely, one worthy of a prime spot on your bookshelf.

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