This is the story of Baltimore… not the city, but the hunter. Many would say that he is a vampire hunter; the best there is for that matter. Me? I would say that he is a vampire and monster killer, with the only “hunt” involved being with a master vampire named Haigus in whom our Lord Baltimore views as responsible for all the trouble that is going on in his surroundings, which is a post-World War I apocalyptic wasteland called Europe. Lord Baltimore has meticulously travelled all through the land looking for the dreaded Haigus, getting into many adventures along the way. Baltimore and his vampire slaying harpoon has destroyed many a monster, but Haigus has been quite elusive as we now enter into the third volume of the tale. He still hasn’t found Haigus. He has found everything else (vampires, demons, monsters, giant spiders, etc.) though and it is a true testimony of his power and desire to find Haigus as he still is around. A lesser man would have succumbed a long time ago; although he is beginning to look a little rough as this volume of stories progresses. This is the third volume compiled from the mind of Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden depicting a hellish view of a post-World War I land being ravaged by plague, vampires, demons, madmen, psychotic religious zealots, and even the head of Edgar Alan Poe. Officially titled “Baltimore: The Passing Stranger and Other Stories”, volume three compiles several episodic type stories following Lord Baltimore’s adventures that begin with “The Widow and The Tank” and finish with “The Inquisitor”. It is a nice compilation of the volume and despite its extreme darkness (and I mean extreme), it is a well-written and composed comic with all the added perks that is expected with a Mignola trade.
It is dark tale however. Don’t go into this story expecting nice happy one liners or any humor for that matter. It’s so dark that you even have vampires scared to venture out of places in fear not of Baltimore, but of other demonic beasts who desire to destroy them (Now that’s dark people). The tales though work like a symphony beginning with small acts and then rescendo into a nice finale that makes our beloved hunter the hunted which is something that has not really been seen as of yet. Expect it to get interesting in the future. It actually already has as some new issues of volume four are running now.
Even through the darkness, the episodes show the faces of Baltimore and those victims of the wasteland. This is a sad/tragic place where everyone finds themselves huddled up together needing some form of salvation. Baltimore takes care of business (quite impressively), but he himself may be the saddest of them all as he still has not found his prize, just a lot of suffering, misery and evil. I particularly liked the “Dr. Leskovar’s Remedy” story as it helps one to view into the part of intentions in that how beginning as good might become bad if not held into check. It could be a lesson for Baltimore (and us all) as he continues in search of his goal at any costs and with no real care of anything else.
Any fan of the “Hellboy” style art will fall right into Baltimore with ease. The way the pictures tell the story even without words leaves a person just captivated. In “The Play” the blending of colors (reds, darks, even flesh for one of the characters), is nothing short of magnificent. Ben Stenbeck’s art just flat out rocks and even with the drawing of Baltimore himself you see a transition occurring to where our hero is becoming more pale and dead looking. He is slowly beginning to look like the vampires that he is hunting and it is a gradual transition as each story progresses. It really adds to the fullness of the story.
Haigus himself is not very present in these stories (except in a flashback during “The Play”), but you can feel his handiwork all at work through this volume. It seems that Lord Baltimore does too which only adds fuel to the fire of his hatred. The last story may or may not be tied into Haigus, but it looks like the future holds much of the same for our hero, with an addition that he is now being hunted as well.
Volume three is a good trade paperback that can only add to the legend that is Mignola and Golden. Their storytelling (though dark here) is undeniable and many of the images by Stenbeck will leave you with nightmares when you sleep. I give all of these elements props to being a good piece of work.
Writers: Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden Artist: Ben Stenbeck Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $24.99 Release Date: 11/20/13