cover image Criminal Macabre: The Iron Spirit

Criminal Macabre: The Iron Spirit

Steve Niles and Scott Morse. Dark Horse, $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59582-975-7

Newly undead after years as a paranormal investigator, Niles’ long running character Cal McDonald is visited by a retired Air Force captain in dire need of his special skills. Years ago, Captain Clayton supervised tests of secret military equipment that caused the deaths of four young recruits. Haunted for decades, Clayton is now determined to reclaim their souls and put them to rest. This self-contained, brief one-shot is built upon Niles’s stylistic dexterity and economy, which effortlessly balances noir and horror elements. In fact, this is essentially an illustrated short story, with text that could easily stand on its own. That’s not to downplay Morse’s contribution. A combination of sketchy pencils and layered blocks of watercolor, Morse’s misty, spectral artwork breathes new life into this long-running series. As a visual experience, the story manifests out of the ether, emerging from the dimension in which McDonald has now taken up residence. Although the ongoing Cal McDonald series has benefited in unique ways from each of its contributing artists, the seamless pairing of Niles and Morse calls for more than just a 32-page one-shot. (Sept.)