Indie Comics Spotlight: Criminal Macabre, Think Tank, Fathom: Kiani


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Review – Criminal Macabre: Final Days of Night – The 30 Days of Night Crossover #1

When war wages among the undead, it’s us lowly humans caught in the middle. The options are limited and fear is high. Werewolves will rip us to shreds, vampires will drain us and zombies will just eat us. When two of the three aforementioned factions war though, things get real, as in Criminal Macabre: Final Days of Night – The 30 Days of Night Crossover #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Steve Niles, with art by Christopher Mitten, colors by Michelle Madsen and letters by Nate Piekos.

In a slightly different LA, Cal McDonald is a ghoul with a private investigator streak in him. He’s known by both ghouls and vampires throughout as a man who gets things done, making him the perfect person for FBI Agent Alice Blood to seek out for assistance in stopping Eben Olemaun. Eben is the vampire supposedly behind an attack on an FBI building, which Agent Blood thinks is linked to Barrow, Alaska. Yes, THAT Barrow, Alaska, where the 30 days of night make for a buffet for vampires. It’s now up to Cal’s investigative skills and Agent Blood’s experience to find Eben and stop him before he gets out of control. Like commanding an army of vampires set to take over LA.

Firstly, this is a crossover between Dark Horse and IDW…just getting that out of the way. Cal McDonald is entering into Niles’ world of30 Days of Night and looks to be having a rough time of it. Pitching ghouls against vampires is interesting, not just because of the factions involved, but also because ghouls are the only ones who side with humans. Second, Niles does a brilliant job establishing a story here. McDonald and Blood are poised to be sort of an odd couple, Mo’Lock is another ghoul seeking revenge against the vampires, another vampire named Lord Westminster represents Eben in seeking the “bug eater” (presumably Cal) and Eben is getting feisty. It’s a lot for sure, but it’s all setting to converge and make for fantastic reading.

The art by Mitten is equally as impressive. It’s done in a way that feels a little seedy–if that makes any sense–and really impressed upon the reader this feeling that things are about to be bad. Like, gory, blood-sucking bad. Lord Westminster is a fat, slovenly vampire, while Cal is a ghoul always on the mend. It all adds to the atmosphere in the book and looks great.

For a first issue, Criminal Macabre: Final Days of Night – The 30 Days of Night Crossover #1 has a lot going for it. There’s a strong storyline being established and Cal McDonald is an equally strong lead character. Fans of 30 Days of Night will definitely want to check this series out. Fans of good comics will also find something to like here as well.

Criminal Macabre: Final Days of Night – The 30 Days of Night Crossover #1 is available now.

Review – Think Tank #4

Being smart has its drawbacks. Primarily, being the object of the military’s affection. Thankfully, being smart also has its advantages, such as escaping the military, as in Think Tank #4 from Top Cow. The final issue is written by Trip Hawkins, with art by Rahsan Ekedal and letters by Troy Peteri.

Dr. David Loren continues to mount his escape, handily dealing with any and everything the military throws his way in the process. That includes ground forces, helicopters and angry golfers. He and Mirra are running, jumping and camouflaging their way across the base, looking for a way out.

From a script standpoint, Hawkins’ is fantastic. He manages to make Loren come across as extremely arrogant and cocky, fully aware that his intelligence grants him a broader view of life. As he’s using the different technologies, he’s explaining to both Mirra and the reader how those technologies could be used for good instead of evil. That’s where the entire series has excelled. The overarching theme is that the American military is so keen on crafting new ways to kill, when in fact they should be looking for new ways to help. This is part of what’s sticking in David’s craw the most and he’s quick to point it out.

Ekedal’s art is pretty awesome. It’s stark and simple, but does a great job carrying all the action in the script. He gets to have fun illustrating some of the rather far-fetched scenarios that David and Mirra find themselves in, adding a certain bit of lightheartedness to someone escaping a military base.

Think Tank was an entertaining series overall–punctuated by a dramatic fourth issue–but felt an issue too long. Dr. David Loren is an interesting character, but the bulk of the series (and even this issue) really just felt like one long monologue. The twist at the end is intriguing and should make the continuation of the series worth watching.

Think Tank #4 is in stores now.

Review – Fathom: Kiani Vol. 2 #4

It’s hard being a child of royalty. So many expectations and so many rebellious tendencies. Both of which are on full display in Fathom: Kiani Vol. 2 #4 from Aspen Comics. The issue is written by Vince Hernandez, with art by Oliver Nome, Nacho Arranz and Lori Hanson, colors by John Starr and letters by Josh Reed.

The fate of the ocean hangs in the balance. No, literally, the ocean is hanging high as Kiani evokes one last push to truly be free. She’s elevated it above the city of Marielle in an attempt to ward off Siphon and Killian from stopping her. What ensues is a whole lot of family feud and Kiani being put in her place so to speak.

Considering this was the final issue of the volume, Hernandez did a great job wrapping everything up neatly. That is to say, the rebellion was resolved, but the ending left open the possibility that there could be more discord in the future. Ultimately, Kiani is forced to deal with living in the shadow of Fathom herself, something that younger siblings can readily attest is an unenviable position. The pacing of the story was quite frenetic, with Kiani attempting to broker peace amidst a crumbling ocean all around. She really gets close to losing it, making her own followers question her motives. That fact alone adds something to the book that makes Kiani just seem a touch more dangerous, regardless of how noble her cause may be.

The artistic team does a great job with the book. Lines are sharp and colors are vivid and they handle the massive fleet destruction scenes very well. Kiani herself is illustrated voluptuously, showcasing a determination to see her rebellion through to the end.

Overall, the four issues of Fathom: Kiani Vol. 2 really added a new layer to the Fathom universe. Kiani is shown as someone who needs to be redeemed, a notion that’s self-imposed and carried out with sincere commitment. Where she goes from here is anyone’s guess, but chances are, she’s not done.

Fathom: Kiani Vol. 2 #4 is in stores now.

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