I recently binge read the first four volumes of this series created by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, with art by Ben Stenbeck. Baltimore follows the story of Lord Henry Baltimore and his hunt for the vampire that killed his family in years surrounding World War 1.
The first four volumes of Baltimore (Vol. 1 The Plague Ships, Vol. 2 The Curse Bells, Vol. 3 A Passing Stranger and Other Stories and Vol. 4 Chapel of Bones), follows the titular characters hunt for the vampire that he met in the trenches during his time in the Great War. The plot is an alternative history story that follows a new plague that causes most soldiers to desert to spend time with their families before people all fall victim to this supernatural illness.
The writing of Baltimore is very much like Mignola’s other work were there are lots of allusions to Lovecraft and Poe whilst putting a twist on the usual vampire stories we are so prone to seeing in the media nowadays. However unlike his previous works, Baltimore was originally an illustrated novel that was co-written by Golden.
I have also come to quite appreciate Mignola’s oft sparse writing style against Bendis who I have personally come to find reading difficult due to the shear amount of dialogue he places in his panels. With Bendis I often find myself skimming his writing just to get to the important pieces of information. In fact in the first TPB of Baltimore there is six or seven pages were there is no dialogue and the art paints the story which was really nice to ‘read’.
Stenbeck’s art is beautiful. Not much I can say about it. It feels very much a Mignola story. The interpretations of how the monsters look seem like they have come straight out of Mignola’s subconscious. It clear, the characters are distinctively different allowing me not to have to guess who I am looking at and overall it just works. I can’t fault it.
So the colouring is one of the reasons you know your reading a Mignola book. Dave Stewart is on colouring duties as he has been doing for years now with Mignola on the Hellboy universe. And the very stark contrast with one colour backgrounds and use of blacks really makes the story feel dark and scary.
I’ve talked about Clem Robins in a previous blog and once again he really makes his mark.
This was a great read and I would recommend you pick up the first four volumes if you fancy reading a horror story set during the Great War.