By Steve Niles, Christopher Mitten, & Michelle Madsen
Let’s get this out of the way right from the start: The Eyes of Frankenstein #3 had to be one of the best issues of Criminal Macabre up to this point in the saga of Cal McDonald. This latest installment developed the ongoing plot of Criminal Macabre more than any previous issue in recent memory, and all of it was very exciting to say the least.
There was something more cinematic to the overall flow of this issue compared to usual which made for a much more dynamic reading experience. Cal’s most recent overarching predicament involves not only a plague which has struck the ghoul population, but his own transformation as well. EoF #3 tied this major plot thread into the standalone story involving Adam, Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. While Dr. Hemlock helps Adam with a pair of new eyes, he also decides to investigate the potential relationship of Cal’s condition and that of the ghouls. During the interaction between these two there are some wonderfully insightful moments where Adam explains to Hemlock why the ghouls flock to Cal and adore him so much; “It is every child’s instinct to want to be safe – even if they are monsters.” It’s rare to quote directly in a review, but this issue was full of great lines like this which deepen our understanding of the social dynamics which encapsulate Cal’s bizarre existence. This type of serious character introspection is relatively rare in the world of Criminal Macabre, but when it does show up you can bet Steve Niles pulls it off with perfection. The action throughout the issue was also quite exciting, but simply served as brief punctuation between the greater expositions used this month. Even so, the story was developed in some really intriguing ways which some readers may not have anticipated, and the exciting revelations were thrilling in their own right.
The latest installment of Criminal Macabre also had some terrific artwork that exceeded expectations for the book in most places. The issue starts off incredibly strong in the visual department with well-detailed backgrounds and interesting character illustrations. Christopher Mitten’s battle scenes also have great flow to them in EoF #3, while Michelle Madsen’s colors in these particular panels employ a simple, single color fill in the background which helps to highlight the foreground action. Throughout the book, Madsen’s colors look more vibrant than ever. There are a few pages towards the end of the issue that feel a little different from the rest of the book, but this is a minor detail as a vast majority of the visuals are consistently well-executed. As always, the illustrations also really help to emphasize the brief moments of humor, such as Mo’Lock the ghoul looking squeamish and shying away when Hemlock begins Adam’s eye transplant.
There were some really exciting developments in the latest installment of Criminal Macabre; too many to discuss in one place, and we want to avoid spoilers! You should be reading this one. This is the most excited I’ve been about Cal McDonald, and given some of the revelations in EoF #3, there could be some major changes in the future. Did I mention the ending was absolutely bonkers? No? The ending was absolutely bonkers. If you haven’t been reading the Eyes of Frankenstein arc, catch upon issues #1-2 and make sure to grab #3. It’s a good time to be a Cal McDonald fan.