Review: Criminal Macabre – The Third Child #2

Wowzers this issue packs a punch. There was a time in which Steve Niles could do no wrong and took the comic world by storm. Now I don’t think he’s lost a step, but with any creator you become exposed to a large body of their work and they either have to evolve at a faster rate or you need to limit your exposure. For most of us we end up limiting our exposure which is probably why I’m able to see how much craft Niles is putting into this series. Is it his swan song? I don’t know, but it kind of feels like it. Let’s start with that cover again; now while it’s not as super fucking awesome and cool as the first issue, it’s still pretty damn awesome. It’s also something else, but I don’t want to say it because that would be jacked up of me. Let’s just leave it as “awesome comic book cover” and move on.

Cal and company are on their way to the hospital where a gang of monsters have gathered to make their final push towards taking over the world and killing Cal. It’s a fucking nightmare. While traveling there we dive into Cal’s psyche as he narrates about what’s happening to him. There’s a monster inside him, but more so he’s dealing with the fact that he’s become a monster… the very thing he hates.

Criminal Macabre - The Third Child #2 10.15.14Once he’s there he begins making quick work of the monsters gathered. They circle around him and he cuts half of them down with a swipe of his wings while he lights a new cigarette. He begins violently attacking them until Mo and Adam have to pull him off. He once again shouts at them for touching him and needs a minute to calm down.

Meanwhile the wandering demon babies continue to make people riot and kill in their presence until Hemlock appears and talks to them. He’s still wearing all crimson skin and looking creepy and bad ass. He offers them a truce and tells them that he can lead them to the third child.

There’s a lot of storylines wrapping up in this arc. There have been clues in the last few stories that are now presenting themselves in this story. For instance the black smoke that Cal was coughing up… well I could be wrong, but we might have a conclusion on what was causing that… might. Niles is pulling out all the stops and while I don’t know what he can possibly do with the story after this, I also know that I’ve said that before. He comes through and this continues to be the best world that he’s created and developed. Cal is a character for the ages and if I were making an arbitrary list of “the best” he would certainly be on it.

As I said last time Christopher Mitten has won me over in a big way with this series. His work on this issue is actually even better than his work on the last issue. In particular I will talk about the fight at the hospital since I don’t want to give anything else away. The wings chopping through the vamps was very cool, especially since he didn’t talk about it, he just did it. Mitten handles his flying quite well giving it a sense of speed and intensity. You would not want Cal to fly towards you because it would almost certainly mean your death.

While this issue is a bad place for new readers to start, long time readers are likely shitting their pants. This issue was over far too quickly for my liking and I only wanted to read more because of it. Even a casual Cal McDonald fan will love every page of this issue.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Steve Niles Artist: Christopher Mitten Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/15/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital