Dating is tough enough nowadays, but when the person you’re seeing is a vampire, well, that’s just asking for trouble. But still, Cal McDonald persists. Writer Steve Niles and Gyula Nemeth’s crime, monsters, and romance tale Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out continues with issue #2 as Cal comes face to face with the jealous rage of a man that wants Victoria for himself. It’s a quick issue that sees Cal go further down a road he probably shouldn’t be traveling on.
Everyone’s favorite supernatural private eye Cal McDonald, newly sprung from retirement, has always fought and killed monsters. This time he’s falling for one and in a big way. He’s become smitten with a vampire club owner named Victoria and it looks like she’s falling for him as well. But as often happens, love springs jealousy and one of Victoria’s followers isn’t taking too kindly to Cal’s advances towards her. Meanwhile, as Cal is distracted, his partner Mo’lock has taken on a case investigating the disappearance of several sewage construction workers. But what he finds may be much worse than he imagines.
The writing in Criminal Macabre #2 gets off to a bloody good start. They say you have to fight for love, and that’s exactly what predicament Cal finds himself in this book. While most of the issue sees Cal waiting for nightfall just so he can see his ravishing blood-drinking Victoria again, there is a lot that you learn if you look close enough. For starters, the assailant who comes trying to kill Cal is riddled with bite marks and completely obsessed with Victoria. It makes you wonder if Cal is headed towards the same fate. Another notable moment in this issue comes with the quick reflexes and fast detective skills that show that although older Cal still hasn’t lost his step.
The book is divided into two storylines going on, where we see both our protagonist Cal and Mo’Lock heading down a dark path that we know won’t lead to anything good. On the one hand, Cal continues dating the vampire Victoria; on the other, Mo’lock is searching the sewers for missing persons. Somehow I believe that both stories will bleed into one another at some point. As far as the love element, Cal and Victoria share a chemistry that matches classic film characters like Humprey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not.
Another thing that has always made Nile’s style of writing so unique is his attention to detail, especially in his dialogue. For example, during the first issue, Victoria and Cal have a discussion about where she gets her blood supply. Victoria mentions human donors as one of her sources and Cal says, “willing?” Fast forward to this book and who shows up at his front door trying to kill him but one of her faithful donors. It’s genius foreshadowing.
Gyula Nemeth continues to do some incredible line work in this issue. His shotgun panels at the beginning are some of my favorites. His character designs are pretty awesome, revealing not only how flawed and imperfect the characters are, but they hold such a realness to them. Whether you’re staring down the barrel of a gun or walking the filthy sewers, his illustrations complement Niles’ writing to the letter. He knows his anatomy quite well.
Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #2 is over more quickly than you want it to be and packs a good punch. Every page is filled with the stuff comic dreams are made of. Hopefully, Cal keeps his head above water long enough to see through whatever Victoria’s real agenda for him is. You’ll definitely want to add this book to your next trip to the comic shop.