Steve Niles is definitely doing some house cleaning here in Criminal Macabre/30 Days of Night: Final Night #3. I'm not going to give away any spoilers — but there's definitely a bag full of heads that shows up at one point. A big bag. Lots of heads.
The shit is definitely hitting the fan in this penultimate issue. All of the forces have been gathered on both sides, and they are getting ready to rumble. The monstrous vampire lord Eben Olemaun is pissed off. The ashes of his beloved wife — who he is hoping to resurrect — are stolen. Cal McDonald and his miniature band of three defenders are a thorn in his side, and one he wants to pluck. Things aren't looking good.
More than any issue in the series, I thought #3 showcased the differences in theme and style of Criminal Macabre and 30 Days of Night. Cal McDonald is his usual self — overly confident, fuck-off-attitude, and not really too worried that things won't eventually go his way. Because that's how he rolls, right? But Eben Olemaun is a different kind of monster entirely. He doesn't play by McDonald's rules. 30 Days of Night is an altogether darker, more brutal series than the comedy-tinged Criminal Macabre. And we see that here in the confrontation.
I think this is the first time I have seen Cal McDonald scared.
And it makes me wonder about the consequences of Niles' killing off one of his series — how far is he going to go? Is he going to wipe the slate clean? Burn and salt the Earth to keep temptation from brining his characters back (as he has promised not to do?) If Criminal Macabre goes down, I assume Mo'Lock and his ghouls go, but if 30 Days of Night gets cut, does that mean Alice Blood and all the vampires have to vanish as well? Is Steve Niles getting out of the vampire business?
Whatever the answer — and we will find out next issue — Final Night #3 is the all-chiller/no filler awesome comic I have come to expect. There are some great moments here, some really cool panels that are packed with spoilers so I can't talk about them in too much detail. There's some "Fuck yeah!" moments and some "Hell no!" moments, and you'll know what I'm talking about when you read the comic. Three pages in particular that I absolutely love.
And even though I have said before I'm not a huge fan of Christopher Mitten's artwork, I got to hand it to him — he draws a great pile of flying heads. Michelle Madsen does a great job with the colors as well, using a dense, neutral palate right up to those moments when color explodes into the world, most of it red.
Only one more issue to go — if I were a betting man, my money is still on McDonald to walk out alive at the end. He might be dragging his guts in a wheelbarrow behind him, and "alive" might be an abstract term for his current condition, but he's still a survivor. Unless Steve Niles has some devilish twist reserved for the end, like turning McDonald into a vampire of something like that. I wouldn't put it past him.
Zack Davisson is a freelance writer and life-long comics fan. He owned a comic shop in Seattle during the '90s, during which time he had the glorious (and unpaid) gig as pop-culture expert for NPR. He has lived in three countries, has degrees in Fine Art and Japanese Studies, and has been a contributing writer to magazines like Japanzine and Kansai Time-Out. He currently lives in Seattle, WA with his wife Miyuki. You can catch more of Zack's reviews on his blog Japan Reviewed or read his translations of Japanese ghost stories on Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai.