Comic Review: Criminal Macabre: Final Night #1

Criminal Macabre: Final Night #1
The 30 Days of Night Crossover
Written by Steve Niles
Art by Christopher Mitten
Cover by Justin Erickson
Dark Horse Comics
Release date: December 12, 2012
Cover price: $3.99

To say that Steve Niles has created the best of both worlds when it comes to horror and crime-pulp-noir with his two most well known properties, Criminal Macabre and 30 Days of Night, is an understatement. Any fan of horror, crime comics, or novels of the like would absolutely love these stories and the revolving cast of characters.

Criminal Macabre is about Cal McDonald, a former cop turned supernatural detective, who with the aid of his ghoul sidekick Mo’lock battle the forces of evil and get just as wasted doing so. 30 Days of Night is the story of vampires attacking a small Alaskan town named Barrow, where the sun goes down for a month and vampires are free to roam. Steve Niles has written several mini-series and novels based on the characters from both properties. 30 Days of Night was adapted as a major motion picture as well as the second story in the series, Dark Days, which was a direct-to-DVD movie. Needless to say, both titles have a lot of history behind them and this story has been building for a long time.

Recently in Criminal Macabre, Cal Mcdonald, the main character, died and came back as a ghoul. Not a zombie or some weird vampire, but a ghoul, Cal is now undead with super strength and fast healing abilities. Cal has also found out that there is an impending war between humanity and the undead. He doesn’t know what or when it’s going to happen but with the help of his ghoul sidekick Mo’lock and newly befriended Detective Wheatley, they’ll face the coming darkness together.

Over in the recently ended 30 Days of Night series, Eben Olemaun, the Alaskan cop who turned into a vampire and died to save his wife Stella Olemaun, has recently changed sides. After the accidental death of his wife Stella by the hands of FBI agent Alice Blood, Eben is now building a vampire army to wipe out all of humanity. He took over all of the local covens and has gained the assistance of the European vampires in his conquest.

The Criminal Macabre: Final Night crossover is the culmination of years of stories building up to this point. The past year’s story arc in 30 Days of Night and the past couple of stories for Criminal Macabre have been setting the stage for the events of this mini-series. 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre have really developed over the years, the storytelling and the character development have grown in leaps and bounds. 30 Days of Night started as just a tale of a town going dark for a month and a man willing to take his own life just to save his wife and the people he was sworn to protect to now that same man being the mastermind of the biggest vampire invasion. Eben Olemaun has really gone from one end of the spectrum to the other. The same can be said about Criminal Macabre, Cal McDonald was a supernatural detective who took on “the weird cases” that no one wanted or knew what to do with. Starting in Washington, D.C and moving out to L.A, Cal’s life went from bad to worse. Every girl he’s ever been with gets killed or worse, he has a really bad drug and alcohol problem, from being a joke to the police, he became public enemy number one at one point and to top it all off, he died and came back as the one thing he always joked on, a ghoul. He and Mo’lock have had a sibling rivalry relationship since the beginning and now Cal’s no longer the human joking on the ghoul. He is the ghoul.

Steve Niles is one of the best writers in comics and literature today. The man knows his stuff and gets his point across in whatever medium he touches. From crime-noir to horror and back, Niles knows how to flesh out a character and make the reader feel for them. As I said, the evolution of Niles’ story writing and character development has grown in leaps and bounds especially with these two titles. In both the comics and the novels, Niles has really created a rich and very visual world in which his characters roam. To finally see two of his titles come head-to-head is any fans dream come true.

Christoper Mitten‘s artwork is phenomenal. His style is very dirty and broad-stroked. His style is definitely his own, there is no one you can really compare him to. You could say he may be influenced by artists like Bill Sienkiewicz, Frank Miller or Ben Templesmith (who also co-created and drew a good portion of the 30 Days of Night franchise). Mitten has been the artist for Criminal Macabre and 30 Days of Night as of recently, which is a treat for fans because they know exactly the level of awesome they’re going to get.

All in all, this mini-series could mean the end or beginning of a title or character(s) but either way, we the fans win no matter what. I highly recommend that if you haven’t checked out either 30 Days of Night or Criminal Macabre that you go and get everything you can get your hands on because both books are amazing and when you’re reading this series, you aren’t sitting there scratching your head wondering what the hell they’re talking about when someone references something that happened in a prior story.

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