Saturday, 7 February 2015

Monsters And Mystery

After the emotional roller coaster I endured from the epic conclusion of Michael J. Sullivan's Heir of Novron (I almost cried twice, which never happens– seriously you need to read these books), I decided to unwind with a graphic novel recently given to me, involving a dark-humored main character, major monsters, and intense violence. Criminal Macabre by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith is a great twist on a classic monster horror/mystery, a fun, wild ride for fans of dark, gritty, urban fantasy.

Dirty, wicked cover by artist Ben Templesmith

The creative team behind 30 Days of Night, Wizard magazine's "breakout hit of 2002," launch a new series of occult detective stories featuring the monstrously hard-boiled Cal McDonald. A pill-popping alcoholic reprobate, Cal is the only line of defense between Los Angeles and a growing horde of zombies, vampires, and werewolves, all of whom are working acting even stranger than usual– like working together to reach an evil, terrifying goal.

As with most graphic novels, I found this to be a short read. I read the entire thing during my morning workout yesterday, so I won't go into many details about the plot. Its the kind best enjoyed by surprise. By the time I was finished, I was craving more. The characters are fun and interesting, the sketching and art is a perfect fit, and the story was filled with great twists and turns.

I really enjoyed the twists revolving around the main plot, how the monsters weren't acting the way that Cal was used to, and therefore becoming even harder to kill. The twist behind this was uncanny and welcome, leaving a smile on my face.

Cal is a great character. Definitely an anti-hero who uses every vice in the book to deal with the dangers and traumas of his life. Being probably the only human in the world that is able to see and communicate with monsters had clearly taken its toll. His humor is the exact kind that I enjoy– raunchy and sadistic. He's definitely what I look for in a main character when it comes to graphic novels like this.

My single complaint is simply that I wanted more from the story. It was such a fun read and filled with welcome surprises, that I was hoping it would extend for another hundred pages or so. But if my complaint is that I wanted more, that isn't really a complaint, is it?

All in all, this was a great, quick read. Niles and Templesmith clearly had fun putting the novel together, and I would highly recommend it to fans of 30 Days of Night and Constantine. After reading this, you'll never look at monsters the same way twice... or will you?


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