Monster stories have always been a bit of a favourite round these parts but there's one type of monster story that's always held a special fascination for us - the kind of creature feature that contains a good splattering of different classic monsters. So Criminal Macabre, with its promise of vampires, werewolves and ghouls blended into one story, was always going to hold promise.
The hero, Cal McDonald, is a down-trodden ex-cop private detective, with a particular specialisation in dealing with monsters. Previously, it would seem, he could do away with most monsters using little more than a shotgun - all the myths about silver bullets and stakes through the heart are unnecessary with modern day monsters, their power diluted by the passing generations. During this investigation he comes upon super-monsters though, which require a reversion to the old ways in order to get rid. And while modern day ghouls are happy to co-operate and stick to the sewers, vampires and werewolves are a different matter entirely.
The caper is a muddled investigation, with a wise-cracking investigator quick to shoot off his mouth as well as his gun. This, along with Templesmith's post Bill Sienkiewicz artwork, manages to capture a humorous element, tempering some of the hardcore horror (mostly of a grievous wounding and spilt blood nature).
It isn't the traditional monster fare we might have hoped at the beginning of the read, but Cal McDonald is a fiery, three-dimensional character, and the other key players are similarly fleshed out. Where the plot gets thin, the characters successfully fill it out, but the cross-genre effect is a little too private detective to appeal to horror fans, while the mythological aspects may turn off those looking for a new action hero.
Comment on this graphic novel review