Supernatual Freak Machine: A Cal McDonald Mystery #1, March 2005, IDW Publishing
writer: Steve Niles
artist: Kelly Jones
colorist: Michelle Stewart
letterer: Tom B. Long
editor: Chris Ryall
Getting this one in right under the wire. It’s been a long day in a long week that isn’t near over yet, and I’m beat, but I have to log something about today’s read. Three quick thoughts that I can embellish later:
1. Supernatural Freak Machine: perhaps the coolest title for a comic book I’ve seen in a long time.
2. Steve Niles: the definitive writer of weird. In my attempt to review comics with a connection to Halloween, his name has come up four times with titles from at least two different companies. His rep precedes him. In this case, his supernatural detective Cal McDonald takes on a haunted car and a demented prison doctor that seems to use inmates in macabre Frankenstein-like experiments. I wonder if Niles has a cauldron of key words, i.e. “haunted,” “car,” “prison,” and “doctor,” and he just pulls a few slips to come up with an idea every time he gets an assignment.
3. Kelly Jones: I’ve missed him. I dug his run on Batman, and as near as I can tell, he’s the only artist that can tackle this story with any real efficiency. I wonder how the prison doctor’s splash page was described in the original script: “Dr. Polynice turns to face the warden, his smock covered in blood, dozens of failed experiments standing behind him, mostly humanoid creatures with additional heads and limbs sewn on in various places – generally appalling to the unprepared eye?” You have to see it to believe it.
The lesson: Horror comics are certainly a specialty that not just any artist can master. Niles and Jones have honed the genre into a mad science just as Lee and Kirby became experts in the superhero department. Really. They’ve created a monster.