For the past 4 months, both “Criminal Macabre” and “30 Days of Night” fandoms have been on the edge of their seats, wondering which of the two critically acclaimed horror titles would be coming to an end. For better or worse, Steve Niles’ knack for building suspenseful series’ with unpredictable storylines has made the wait all the more excruciating; but with the release of Criminal Macabre/30 Days of Night: Final Night #4, the answer is finally revealed as Cal and Eben face off in a massive ghouls vs. vampires battle of epic proportions.
WRITTEN BY: Steve Niles
ART BY: Christopher Mitten
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics/IDW Publishing
RELEASE: March 27, 2013
Because this is a crossover between two horror title powerhouses which ultimately leads to the end of one of Niles’ series, the level of suspense and the amount of erratic fluctuation between which characters could possibly be victorious is at an all-time high. Rest assured this review will not disclose which fan-favourite character meets his ultimate demise, so fear not any major spoilers.
Following the cliffhanger ending of the third installment, issue #4 begins with a gruesomely brutalized Cal, struggling to hold on to what’s left of his life in order to save Alice and carry out his ultimate mission against Eben and his vampire army. The exposure of blood and guts literally hanging out of Cal’s stomach in the opening panels, fantastically illustrated by Christopher Mitten, is only made gnarlier by Michelle Madsen’s macabre contribution of colours. In both script and art, the author and his creative team successfully depict the severity of such a mega showdown between ghouls and vampires, and the everlasting effects consequently derived from the final battle.
This last installment is very much the start and finish of one horrifically violent final battle between good vs. evil. Eben, who has Alice in his possession, is gearing up his minions for a colossal attack on unsuspecting civilians meandering through Sunset Boulevard in an attempt to take back the planet and make humankind their cattle. The way Niles writes this scene is interesting, as he re-establishes the ideology behind vampirism and terrorism. Particularly in his description of the busiest street in Los Angeles: “It has been ground zero for music scenes and Hollywood events. After tonight, it will simply be Ground Zero.”
What follows is an explosive monster brawl, the size and brutality of which is showcased through Mitten’s effortless mastery of pencils. Though, there are times where it might be somewhat difficult distinguishing between ghoul, vampire, and human between all the heads being grotesquely ripped off, it’s something strangely enjoyable. In the midst of this insane street war is Cal and Eben, ready to finish each other off, once and for all; but unfortunately, whoever perishes in this book means the end of one amazing series.
Niles has an extremely trying job, trying to end one popular franchise in a mere 4 issues. There’s a question of whether or not there’s enough space to adequately portray the amount of emotional damage and mental strife both characters have to endure due to unmerited losses and lifestyle adjustments. While the action is exceptionally prevalent, there could be more in the sense of natural bereavement; but in a way it’s understandable, considering the grim lives they lead.
Niles accelerates through the last 26 pages, and while the narrative feels slightly rushed, that can be chalked up to the crazy anxiety readers may feel powering through the final pages of the book, wondering which series will be the one ending. Steve Niles definitely likes to keep his fans guessing.
“Criminal Macabre/30 Days of Night: Final Night” is a delicious treat for fans of both series’, and a wonderfully constructed pulp noir horror book; it’s just shame one of these titles is over. You’ll have to pick up the final installment to see which one.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd