Los Angeles can be a messed up place in real life, but in the hands of Steve Niles it’s a messed up place full of compelling monsters and deranged human beings. Criminal Macabre: Eyes of Frankenstein begins this new chapter of the series with intrigue and dying Ghouls.
Eyes of Frankenstein presents a new story through the eyes of the human turned undead Cal McDonald. He’s an aspirin chugging degenerate who just wants to get away from the war between human and monster he was born to fight. In this opening shot, we find his health or what’s left of it crumbling as he’s asked to help stop a plague that threatens to kill every ghoul on earth. As if this wasn’t enough he finds Adam, who is a Frankenstein with an intellectual soft side. Adam who is an avid reader going blind and he tasks Cal with solving that dilemma as well. Because obviously Niles likes his characters to multitask their insurmountable obstacles.
Steve Niles writes a story that couldn’t have been more catered to his creepy wheelhouse, along the way he adds a likability to the monsters we were raised to fear. The book’s most stellar quality is the irony it opens with. Having the heinous acts committed by a secret society of humans juxtaposed against monsters just looking for a way to live gives the audience a reason to stay with the characters and side with the monsters. Cal’s dialogue is sharp, brooding, and full of rich sarcasm; in short he’s a character we want to hate but end up wanting to root for.
The art duties of Christopher Mitten are solid. The books more gruesome moments like the exploding pregnant woman are made intriguing by the emotional reactions of characters jestures. His line work is as rough as you’d want in a gritty monster story about an equally gritty man. Mitten has a keen eye for scenes but could use a bit more attention in framing of characters in shots. Though that small annoyance doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book.
With very little exposition the book isn’t as new reader friendly as it could have been, but there’s definitely enough for fans of the Criminal Macabre books to keep on board with this series. Part monster, part crime noir, part buddy movie, all awesome. Someone give Steve Niles a monster feature film to write!