This was a good comics week for me. It brought me the finale of King Conan: Hour of the Dragon. A new Richard Corben/Poe comic in The Raven and The Red Mask. And a new installment of Criminal Macabre: The Eyes of Frankenstein. As the song goes … these are a few of my favorite things. (But I'll take zombie blood and giant axes over raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens, thank you very much.)
The second issue of Criminal Macabre: The Eyes of Frankenstein is even better than the first. We got the set-up out of the way in the first issue, and now it is just Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten playing around with their favorite monsters. The plot moves ahead a little. The Frankenstein Monster's eyes are fading, and Cal McDonald comes up with the perfect plan: since the Monster is just stitched out of corpses anyways, why not get him a new set of eyes? That leads them on the quest for someone who can perform the operation, and a thinly disguised sorcerer/surgeon who Cal seems to hate for some reason.
Niles is on fire with the dialog and wit in this issue. Cramming the Frankenstein Monster into Cal's little car was hilarious, and dialog like "What's going on with possessed demon babies lately?" just makes my day. And the Monster with his glasses—damn, but that was funny. Niles adds some new twists to the story, some of which come completely out of left field and seem a little too convenient (Wheatley's ex-wife, for one) but most of which drive the story forward and keep me wanting to pick up next issue. The final scene is fantastic—just the right horrific scene to close the final page on and leave me with the creeps.
Christopher Mitten does a great job on this issue as well. I've said in multiple reviews that while I respect his work, I'll probably never love Mitten's artwork. But I come pretty close to loving his work here. I dig McDonald's "two lumps of coal" eyeballs, and now that I'm used to his design for the Monster, I love that as well. He gives the Monster great facial expressions, and makes him a nice comedic relief from the always-grim Mo'loch and Cal. Michelle Madsen's colors go a long way in my appreciation for Mitten's art. She has a nice, soft style with pastels and warm colors and those little dashes of red that have become a hallmark of Dark Horse Comics.
My only real complaint—and I made this point last review—I wish Criminal Macabre would add some guidance notes for new readers. I started reading it only in the past year or so, and I love the comic, but I still find myself lost from time to time. A small note like "*Cal first met the Frankenstein's Monster in Criminal Macabre: Blah Blah Blah." would go a long way towards orienting me in the story. I don't know of any reason not to include guideposts like that, or if they have just gone out of fashion, but I sure would love it.