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Criminal Macabre #4

Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2003
By: Paul Brian McCoy



“Bubonic Nights”

Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Ben Templesmith

Publisher: Dark Horse

Plot:
Cal McDonald and Detective Brueger make a big discovery in their investigation of strange going-on around town: the origin of monsters!

Comments:
I’ve been running hot and cold for this series over the past three months. I’ve enjoyed them, but there seemed to be something missing. Don’t ask me what. Regardless, I decided to stick with them, just in case. You see, I love the idea behind this character, Cal McDonald; a hard drinking, pill-popping investigator of the occult. It’s kind of a worn out idea these days, but Niles does it right. The character has just enough fatalism and nihilism for me to enjoy it without having the character seem like just another cliché. Well, this month, the book hits all its marks. The origin of monsters is very well thought out and Crandall’s plan is cool, if nothing else. Detective Brueger’s acceptance of the occult plays out well, as she finally has to just believe her eyes and, as she puts it: “toast to the end of my career.” Even the arrival of the ghoul, Tabitha, at the end of the issue was very well-handled. It was kind of grotesque, but funny at the same time.

Templesmith’s art not for everybody, I’m sure. But it is definitely for me. I love it. He was the main reason that I decided to keep picking up this title (even if I am avoiding Dark Days – I liked 30 Days of Night, but thought it kind of fell apart at the end). The play of light and shadow, combined with the sketchbook quality of the penwork, gives this title a look that is unlike anything else on the stands (except for Dark Days, of course). This is another good piece of work from Dark Horse’s new horror lines. In fact, there hasn’t really been a false step from these titles yet.

Final Word:
If you like horror stories that don’t just rely on gross-outs and shock value, pick up any of the Dark Horse horror comics. Criminal Macabre is, I think, the most easily accessible and the most immediately rewarding of the pack.



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