Criminal Macabre: The Eyes of Frankenstein #1 is the latest offering in the list of Criminal Macabre titles by Dark Horse, written by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) with art by Christopher Mitten (Wasteland).
This issue revolves around a mysterious disease that seems to be killing ghouls. You read that right, the undead are dying. Before occult Detective Cal McDonald and his trusted sidekick Mo’Lock the ghoul can tackle the problem, another one arises. They get called in by the police who need Cal’s help to deal with Frankenstein’s monster who’s tearing up a building. One problem though, Frankeinstein’s monster has gone blind!
Having not read any of the previous Criminal Macabre books I was a little wary of starting this series. I’m definitely glad I did though. Although there are a few references to the previous adventures, knowledge of them was not necessary to enjoy the story. The summary page at the beginning of the issue, combined with the captions of Cal’s thoughts, bring new readers up to speed.
Cal shines as the unwilling hero in this story. Niles does a great job of making this character one you genuinely want to know more about. He’s foul-mouthed, nihilistic, and has a devil-may-care attitude. Essentially he ‘s Niles’ version of John Constantine and he fits perfectly with this genre. His interaction with other characters are a true highlight.
Where I have to mark the issue down is the originality of the story. Naturally it’s hard to constantly come up with a new twist on this genre, but going through I had that nagging feeling that I’ve read and seen this somewhere before. This didn’t detract from the entertainment factor the book provided though, and with only one issue in there’s still opportunity to make this series stand out from others in this category.
Beautiful. That’s the word I would use to describe Mitten’s art in this issue. His simplistic approach to drawing out the characters, and the respective environments in each panel, has a symbiotic relationship with Niles’ writing. Simply put, it just fits well. The pages were highly pleasant to the eye and allowed the story to flow seamlessly.
Fans of horror comics will definitely enjoy this. While it doesn’t have any over the top gore, it is a story immersed in classic horror history. Overall a highly entertaining book that manages to provoke several laughs, combined with an ending that promises an adventure with an unlikely duo.