Before reading the review copy of this issue I was scouring the internet for any mention of Baltimore’s Indian companion, Harish. I was convinced that somehow a one-shot had slipped past me in which he was introduced and I had missed his origin story. Lucky for me Empty Graves #1 is actually the issue in which Harish’s mystery is unraveled. This issue picks up the pieces exactly where we left them at the end of Cult of the Red King. But instead of jumping right into the action we have a bit of respite, where the new characters (much like in the very first arc) get to tell their reasons for joining up with Lord Baltimore. Mignola and Golden continue to expand the Baltimore universe by adding more characters to replace those who have fallen, and now it’s time to hear their tales. After the last living witch tells Baltimore where to find the Red Witch, the weary crusaders travel to Odessa where they had planned to meet back with the rest of Baltimore’s friends. In this downtime they dig graves for their fallen comrades, despite not having all of their bodies. They each realize that Childress (Baltimore’s longtime friend who was killed in the battle with the Red Witch) knew them all more than they had previously thought. Even though they all travel together they realize that they do not truly know one another, and so they set about to tell their tales.
Harish used to be the commander of the Indian Expeditionary Force, and on a mission in Tanganyika he lost everything. Running into a village with only children remaining is never a good sign, and as soon as the soldiers turn their backs, evil awakens. It turns out that the children are possessed by demons and have become monstrous cannibals. Only Harish and two soldiers escape with their lives.
It appears that each one of these characters joins Baltimore after experiencing a terrifying supernatural event. Baltimore’s Apostles all have had their “wake up call” so to speak. In which they realize the world has become a place of horrors and they will do anything to fix it. Baltimore, blaming himself for the plague, is their savior who they would follow anywhere. Mignola and Golden continue to impress, pushing far past the initial adaptation of the Baltimore novel and moving on to break fresh ground. This comic has transcended the traditional vampire story, though in my opinion it never was quite “traditional”. Baltimore has become a shell of a man (he was pretty low before too…), not resting until the Red King is killed, if that is a possible task.
Mignola and Golden’s Europe has become darker, and much more supernatural, and as we delve deeper into the different characters’ background stories hopefully we will begin to see some weird new monsters. Although Ben Stenbeck will always be the artist I think of when I think of Baltimore, Peter Bergting is doing an excellent job on this latest arc, and the last one too for that matter. Bergting has a very nice creepy style, without being overly realistic or sketchy. No line seems out of place, and like all Mignola-endorsed artists he can draw the hell out of some monsters, ghouls, and gore. The Red King may not make an appearance for sometime, but until then we have many stories to entertain us, though I fear we’ll be seeing more graves before the end of this arc.
[button btn_url="" btn_color="teal" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="nofollow" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 4/5[/button]
Baltimore: Empty Graves #1 Writers: Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden Artist: Peter Bergting Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: Print: $3.99 Release Date: 4/6/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital