Cassie’s Dark Horse Comics Review: CRIMINAL MACABRE: DIE, DIE, MY DARLING!

Being a detective with a penchant for the paranormal isn’t easy, especially when you become one of the undead. In this issue, Cal McDonald is learning how to gain acceptance of his new status, be on the same level as sidekick Mo’lock and put an end to the War of Darkness, which his awakening foretold. It’s almost too much for one guy to handle.

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I’ll be completely honest, I was initially drawn to this comic because it’s titled Die, Die, My Darling and if you take the second comma out, it’s one of my favorite Misfits songs. Who doesn’t love a good a good romantic tune from Glen Danzig? I’ve also been meaning to read a Criminal Macabre comic for a while, and this one shot seemed like a good jumping in point to familiarize myself with Cal’s world. I wasn’t amazed, but I wasn’t nonplussed either.

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This one shot, which was originally released in Dark Horse Presents 4-6, follows investigator Cal McDonald, who is currently dealing with the trials and tribulations that come with being undead. He’s brash, pompous, thinks highly of himself and with his involvement in the paranormal it’s easy to see why people compare him to DC Comic’s John Constantine. Both being anti-heroes and the level of swears that emit from their mouths definitely helps cement these parallels.

Steve Niles gives us a lot of conflict in this short story. Initially, Cal has to deal with the ramifications of being undead. He can easily snap off his own finger and since he no longer needs to breathe, smoking the first time causes his head to go up in flames. Talk about an undead faux pas. Like the rest of humanity, Cal seems to think he can return to his former life and count himself among the living once more. Unfortunately, as the rest of us who aren’t fictional characters know, death is inevitable. Tied into this is Cal’s sidekick Mo’lock, who finally feels that he and Cal are on the same level (both being undead and all), but Cal’s superiority comes into play and the “class” difference is still felt. Perhaps over time this will shift.

Christopher Mitten’s artwork shines in the main conflict, when a man named Darren Finch shows up to find a detective for his sister. Mitten’s does a great job illustrating the sister, who is a humanoid creature living inside Darren’s stomach, which happens to be clear like an aquarium. And just in case you didn’t get that they’re otherworldly creatures (predicting future events aside), Darren has some tentacles coming off him that say otherwise. They even show up to frame panels throughout the narrative, a clever touch.

The story is palatable, the writing smart, and we get to see Cal out of his element. However, even in death his characterization doesn’t change much. It does do a good job of introducing new readers to Criminal Macabre, and in that it’s a success.

Story: Steve Niles
Art: Christopher Mitten
Cover: Fiona Staples
32 Pages/FC
On Sale April 4, 2012!

3.5 Stars