One thing I’m very grateful for is FCBD, because every year I manage to find a series I would otherwise not have known about. This year I discovered Baltimore and soon gobbled up the Plague Ships and was very impressed by the setting, tone and sheer excitement that the book had. There have been other horror stories in a war time setting, but to my knowledge, none that have taken place after WWI. That’s what sets Baltimore apart from other “vampire” and horror comics is the setting and tone of the series. At no point does this world seem forgiving or unrealistic; instead it is a gritty, tough and hopeless world that few can relate to. The Curse Bells begins with Lord Baltimore being lead to a town that Haigus was last seen in; unfortunately it’s a trap that has many players involved. The first wave is a tavern full of vampires that leads Baltimore to a Harlem of beautiful vampires that Haigus has left behind. Baltimore’s isn’t even remotely tempted by the vamps as he sends one of them flying through the window into the sunlight. The last stage of the trap is the most dangerous as he wanders into the forest to be greeted by Baum Damonen.
The story goes on to build up to the next leg of events by adding a new character to the mix. Writer/Creators Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden do a convincing job of building the world Lord Baltimore lives in. The horrors he faces come across undefeatable and yet Baltimore always manages to come out on top. Their writing is truly amazing as the book gives off a real feeling of dread while reading it and that’s something special in the world of literature and comics.
The art also plays a huge part in the tone and feeling of the book. Dave Stewart colors the book with rustic earth tones that provide a unique look to the world of Lord Baltimore. Ben Stenbeck continues doing a great job on the art and at this point he’s the only artist that could possibly work on the series. His penciling finds a balance of just enough details at the right moment in the story.
In general this series in one of the best from Dark Horse Comics and if you missed out on “Plague Ships” then do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on The Curse Bells. With a strong narrative that recaps the origin of Lord Baltimore I guarantee you won’t be lost in the story, and then if you like what you read you can always pick up the first series on Dark Horse’s digital app.
Writers: Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Artist: Ben Stenbeck
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics