Criminal Macabre follows the adventures of Cal Macdonald, who is very similar to DC’s John Constantine. He is also a Paranormal Detective that loves to spend his time drowning his problems with alcohol whilst popping painkillers like skittles. You rarely see him without a cigarette followed by a trail of smoke.
Cal is an antihero that will not be getting any help from the boys in blue. Instead, he goes about using ghouls in order to solve his cases. Often the dead can make good informants, however, there is a threat that might eliminate the ghouls forever. Usually ghouls can only die via the total destruction of the body and head, but it seems that they are dying of a somewhat natural cause, a cause described as the feeling of “abandonment”.
Cal is then drawn to a situation in a library. The police have the place surrounded but Cal decides that he will do the talking. He walks in to find his friend Frankenstein, who has trashed the library as a result of a panic attack. He has lost his sight, reading was the only thing that kept him sane. The library was his Fortress of Solitude. But without his eyesight all is lost. It is almost as if these events are foreboding another threat. The hyper violence of the opening pages would also lend to this theory. Cal who is in a rather unusual state of health decides to find out more.
The art really sets the tone of this book, majority of the pages are dark in colour. This really created the atmosphere of the supernatural and draws the reader into the world of this Paranormal Detective. The comic creates a nice balance between highly detailed frames and less detailed frames. What makes this mixture work is that the frames with less detail often contain good dialogue. So the dialogue is kept the focus, it is not lost in by the distraction of detail.
This story follows the 30 Days of Night war. Niles was clever to make the people think that the war with the vampires was the end, but it in actual fact was only the beginning. With so many abnormalities occurring simultaneously, this issue gives you the sense that a great threat is about to emerge. Who or what that threat is, is the question.