‘Calamitous Black Devils:’ Graphic Novel Review (It’s All in the Details)

When an elite WWII Special Forces squad is tasked with stopping Nazi paranormal rites, you know that things are going to go wrong. The Black Devils are the best hunters and trackers the Allies could muster, and their main target is the secret occult organization at the heart of the Third Reich. Things go south when the Devils interrupt a ritual designed to open a gateway between worlds.

I won’t go too much into the details, but the story of The Calamitous Black Devils moves relatively quickly into an alternate dimension with vampires, demons, and naked glowing skeleton gods. The last ones are generally evil. Joseph Schmalke’s writing and art bring this interesting story to life. There are some really cool stylistic choices here, and the story goes in some surprising directions.

What this reminds me of more than anything is a CW action show. The characters are a little broad, the action and sci-fi are a little weird, and the whole thing is built on a frame of melodrama. Now, unlike a CW show, the language can get a bit salty and the violence can get pretty bloody. The thing is, this comic is good, cartoony fun.

There are two things that I wasn’t a huge fan of in this comic. It is occasionally too expositiony and can be a little hard to follow. That didn’t keep me from enjoying it, but I had to work a little harder for this one. The other thing that bugged me is that there were some missed opportunities. (Minor Spoilers ahead.) For example when one of the main characters is killed and then brought back from the dead and is evil and undead, but still intelligent, he didn’t turn into a tragic villain or a big bad or anything. He got killed on the fourth page he appeared in as an evil dead guy. This isn’t necessarily a bad choice, but the comic left out some good drama.

Ultimately, this isn’t a comic that I loved, but I enjoyed it for what it is. It is an entertaining story about soldiers fighting Nazi demons in a nightmarish hell dimension. If you can’t get behind that for a while, then I don’t want to know you.


Three Naked Glowing Skeleton Gods out of Five

Ben Rhodes, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor

Favorite Book:  Cryptonomicon
Favorite MovieYoung Frankenstein
Favorite Absolutely Everything:  Monty Python

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