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It was Saturday May 7th or siete de Mayo to some. You are heading towards your favorite comic book store. There you see a big line of people. You see the people as a motley crew of different credo. Some you recognized and some you never seen before. Seems the world knows something you don't. Is there a big name creator visiting your store? No there is no booth. Then you see that everybody has different comics in their hands and that is when it hits you, you missed free comic book day!
Well Dark Horse is throwing you a bone. You can get their free comic book day comics at the Dark Horse app well for free but only for a limited time. Before that times expires you should get Baltimore/ Criminal Macabre. One of the best offerings of free comic book day, why?
Easy...two books, one comic, all free. The bad thing about a free comic is that it might suck. But this is not the case. Both are two self contained stories, that rather than tease the readers with a sneak peek of upcoming events they actually deliver good fun storytelling.
Baltimore's story is about a kid that goes out in the middle of the night with one of his neiberhood friends, the friend makes him go under a bridge. But is a trap, his friend is dead and possessed by spider demons. They almost kill the boy but that is when the tittle hero steps in and rescues the boy from the demons web. He kills all the spiders and returns the boy to his family but the family won't let him in, until the the sun rises; for fear that he might now be a vampire which was previously haunting the town.
Criminal Macabre delivers a short story about the Frankenstein monster and how the monster is being persecuted by the descendants of doctor Frankenstein. Cal (our hero) threatens the family, if they don't leave the monster alone, the horde of the undead will be after them. The family freaks; Cal and the monster hang out in end and it looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship for both characters.
Baltimore's art is great, Ben Stenbeck's art certantly brings an eerie mood to the story that is full of rich detail that would have you thinking the drawings are haunted. The storytelling is equally motivating as any of Mignola's own. You will note that the style is a bit familiar to Mignola's characteristic shadow art but Stenbeck, has room to put his own spin to it.
The story is simple but with enough characterization and detail to bring any new readers back for more. We don't see much of the main character but we don't need to, just like the kid in the story we only have this chance encounter with the hero but this is enough to make us remember him alright. Like Hellboy, the story combines elements of folkrore with a pulp flair. The story is a great opportunity to jump into this great new series. It represents the character well and what the story is about: the hunt for one specific vampire. You see the hunter is not here to protect the living, his debt is with the dead the living will have to learn to protect themselves.
Now the short story from Criminal Macabre is weak. Although the art has a good sequential flow, the style is not really appealing for new readers. After all, the goal of free comic book day is to get more readers. Also Steve Niles story is boring and a bit stupid. The Frankenstein monster can't defend itself from two spoiled brats. It takes a horde of the undead to freak them out. The Frankenstein monster is a tough monster afraid of two normal people? where is the danger? If you are going to team up your character with one of literature's classic character make it fun for everybody. The Frankenstein monster looks like a wimp in this story. The bad thing is that... this series is great but you don't get sense of that here. Its not a great introduction to the title because it doesn't tell what what it's all about. But if you are a fan of the series this is what you might consider as a bonus.
In the end, hey... Is a free comic book and a good one. Not everything free is awesome. But this one comes close and did I mention is free! If this is your first introduction to these books is not a bad start. Once you finished this book, it is your duty as a fan to check both books out.
Overall Score - 8.0/10 *Great*