BaltimorePlagueShips

Writers: Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden, art by Ben Stenbeck.

Baltimore: The Plague Ships” is a comic book about vampires set following the First World War is automatically intriguing to me. One that has Mike Mignola involved, in writing and in doing cover art made it an easy sell for me. (20th century history + vampires + a grey/black/red colour palette = Scott doling out some cash, or so the math goes.)

This graphic novel is a sequel to an illustrated novel by Golden and Mignola, “Baltimore: or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and The Vampire”  (which I did not read), but “The Plague Ships” works pretty hard to catch you up to speed on what you may need to know to understand what’s going on. I did find it a little strange that no mention of the novel being made in the solicitation of the comic, but what can you do? That’s what you get when you leave your faith with Previews and Diamond.

Lord Baltimore is a war veteran who witnesses the undead feeding on his dying comrades while trapped in the no man’s land of the trenches. Bleeding from several bullet wounds, he battles a vamper, scars it with a bayonet, but at the cost of his leg. In doing so, he spurrs the vampires into a more active hunt, no longer are they willing to content themselves with the dying, they now begin to actively hunt all humans, and Lord Baltimore, after suffering great personal tragedy vows revenge. Good stuff there.

Ben Stenbeck was a pleasant surprise on the pencils, managing to be both gloomy and dynamic. It walks a line somewhere between Mignola’s Hellboy, and the Animated Hellboy series. I especially like the designof the main antagonist, the vampire Haigus, who looks malevolent with that one glowing red eye. The book could use a little more texture, a little more grime in the art, but as it stands I have no serious complaints and quite liked Stenbeck’s storytelling.

My one complaint is that the books reads very quickly, and could have used a little more “meat” to the story. Pacing is a hard thing to perfect in a graphic novel, and this one keeps up a fast pace, and in this case, I found that to be unfortunate, as I wished there was more for me to sink my teeth into.

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I recommend this book to horror fans, as it was entertaining and pretty to look at. I’d give it a solid rating of three “Near Dark”s on a kaiser roll.

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