Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #1
Cal McDonald disappears for two weeks, only to turn up disheveled in the streets taking a beating. He declares to Mo’Lock that he’s done with monster hunting, due to meeting and falling in love with a vampire woman named Victoria. With an explosive cliffhanger climax, we are left wondering what the future holds for the love-struck Cal.
I have to admit, I haven’t been a fan of Criminal Macabre for very long. I picked up the first few installments on this year’s Free Comic Book Day, and–while I was curious about the rest of the stories–I never quite got around to reading more. When the opportunity came to review Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #1, I took the chance that it would rekindle my interest and encourage me to continue on my journey into Steve Niles supernatural noir.
And boy, is this a noir story. Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #1 has so much pulp to it, it might as well be put in the orange juice section of the grocery store. This, to me, is a compliment. It hits all the right keynotes for a good detective story, particularly in the area of le femme fatale.
The art lends itself wonderfully to this grizzled detective story. You can practically smell the sweat and grime coming off of Cal when Mo’Lock finds him being beaten by the crowd. The sparing use of color–focus most on reds and golds–is a wonderful stylistic choice by the artist. I am particularly enamored of the way Victoria embodies all of the aspects of the femme fatale archetype without falling flat as a caricature drawing. There is so much potential for her to become a Jessica Rabbit-esque send up of the pulp noir femme fatale, and yet she hasn’t…yet.
The story also gives Mo’Lock a subplot which I am interested in, though admittedly not quite as invested as I am in Cal’s romance story line. Still, it’s a good choice as far as separating them for the startling crescendo of an ending to an issue. I will definitely be continuing with this miniseries in order to see how the ending of issue one pans out.
Overall, Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #1 is a promising start to a series that has a lot of potential for both good story-telling or flat caricature. However, my confidence in Steve Niles is high, and I am quite sure that the continuing issues will prove to be worth reading.
Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #1 (Niles, Nemeth, Piekos) is an exciting, noirish new installment in the saga of Cal McDonald.
Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #1: A Bleeding Heart
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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