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Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #1 Review

Supernatural detective Cal Mcdonald returns and may be in love with a vampire.

Just when you thought he was out, he gets pulled back in! Everyone’s favorite supernatural investigator Cal McDonald returns in an all-new series called Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out. Writer Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and comic debut artist Gyula Nemeth invite us along to solve another case this time involving vampires, a little mystery, and perhaps even blossoming love. 

Cal McDonald

For the uninitiated, Cal McDonald is a supernatural detective who’s been solving crimes involving creatures, vampires, and ghouls since the early ’90s. He was a cop until one day he was found passed out in his squad car and failed a bunch of drug tests.  He has a partner that he treats like crap — a ghoul named Mo’lock. The new series, The Big Bleed Out, is set to pull Cal out of retirement to solve a case involving mystery, love, and vampires. The first issue sees our hero follow a redheaded vampire named Victoria into a vampire club and become smitten with her (Can’t see that blowing up in his face).

The Writing

The Big Bleed Out #1 is the detective story that we need but don’t deserve. It’s an intelligently well-written piece of literature that pays homage to great literary works like The Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest. You can sort of tell that Niles is fascinated by the detective noir stylings of those time periods. It shows in his writing and pays off well as the first issue is pretty solid all around.

 In terms of the character Cal McDonald, Niles hasn’t skipped a beat. All his quirks and no-BS attitude are all on full display in this issue, including a funny moment where he tells Mo’Lock to get rid of a desktop computer he purchases for Cal. Some of the coolest panels are when he enters the vampire club and all eyes are on him. It kind of reminds you of the Blade films whenever he would show up in a large group of bloodsuckers and you could feel the hatred emanating off of the vampires.

The Art

Replacing longtime artist collaborator Ben Templesmith is Gyula Nemeth. Nemeth’s art style looks very similar to Mike Mignola’s, especially the character designs for the ghouls and vampires. His illustrations are very smooth and easy on the eyes. He’s very good with his transitions between panels and his art complements Niles’ writing perfectly.

The Verdict

The Big Bleed Out series is off to a great start. Cal McDonald is getting himself mixed up in a bunch of trouble, which is typical for him. Nemeth is laying down some serious groundwork with his spectacular illustrations and the story is good so far. The series has just begun, so if you haven’t read it already it’s worth checking out.

Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #1
Is it good?
The Big Bleed out is a great new addition to the Cal McDonald legacy. It pays homage to great characters of the old noir days like Humphrey Bogart while telling a fresh new tale.
Solid story
Excellent pacing
Superb illustrations

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