Criminal MacabreThe Iron Spirit4stars



Dead Men Tell Mysterious Tales

Steve Niles & Scott Morse

Dark Horse Comics, 19.99, 34 pages

Cal McDonald is a different kind of detective. He may possess a gruff personality and penchant for alcohol like other hardboiled private eyes, but McDonald is actually dead. So, he spends his afterlife solving supernatural cases, and in The Iron Spirit, the newest Steve Niles Criminal Macabre mystery, McDonald assists a retired Air Force captain in putting the tortured souls of some unfortunate soldiers to rest.

“So far, being the living dead wasn’t what I thought it would be.”

The Iron Spirit is a wonderfully told detective story with a cast of characters rich in personality. The interactions McDonald shares with his military client are blunt and brimming with humor. Additionally, the access the reader has to McDonald’s thoughts aids in cementing the noir atmosphere of this tale. Speaking of atmosphere, one would be remiss not to acknowledge the importance of the art to the story. Illustrator Scott Morse rebukes traditional comic panel layout in favor of full page spreads. The rough and raw scenes he composes, accentuated by watercolors, succeed in visually representing the haunting tone of the narrative. Newcomers to the Criminal Macabre series will be glad to know that prior knowledge of the series is not required to enjoy this tale, making it a perfect introduction.

Reviewed by Michael Albani

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