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Review of Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery 

Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery No. 1

Published by Dark Horse Comics. Written by Steve Niles. Pencils by Nick Stakal. Inks by Michelle Madsen.

The Deal: Dark Horse Comics releases its newest miniseries starring supernatural detective Cal McDonald. This series -- the beginning of a storyline called "Cellblock 666" -- picks up with Cal on the run from the police for a crime he didn't commit. Methinks Cal is on his way to prison.

The Good: Criminal Macabre has been published as a series of miniseries for years now. For me, it's one of those comics I've seen at my local shop on many occasions, but just never picked up. Until now. (Dramatic, eh?) And after reading the first few pages of the comic, I immediately felt bad about passing it up for so long. Writer Steve Niles has created an entertaining tough-guy detective (a combination of Mike Hammer and Hellboy) and an interesting world for him to dwell. Niles has also crafted an accessible tale that is easy to jump aboard. Hey, like I said, I've never read the book and had no problem figuring out who was who and what was what. More comic writers need to take a lesson from Niles when it comes to this kind of easy accessibility.

The Bad: Although I've been known to love more abstract forms of comic art, the minimalistic drawings found in Criminal Macabre sometimes just come across as sloppy and unclear. For the most part, Nick Stakal's pencils and Michelle Madsen's inks look attractive, but some panels don't deliver.

The Verdict: I'm late to the Cal McDonald party, but I'm a fan now. I'll be buying this entire series.

Reviewed materials furnished by Heroes Aren't Hard To Find: www.heroesonline.com.

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