"Baltimore: Volume 1 - The Plague Ships" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published as Baltimore #1 - #5
Written by Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden
Illustrated by Ben Stenbeck
2011, 136 Pages, Hardcover
Trade Paperback Released on June 28th, 2011
World War I doesn't get a lot of press. Everyone always focuses on the sequel. But what if a plague swept across Europe after the First World War that was reminiscent of the Black Death? And what if this epidemic was caused by vampires? Enter Lord Baltimore, a badass, peg-legged, former soldier who's taken it upon himself to hunt down the blood-sucker that killed his family. Baltimore hacks and slashes his way through hordes of zombies — because what kind of plague would it be without them — and vampires alike.
As he's tracking the creature responsible for his hardships, our would-be slayer runs into a gypsy woman who's looking for a way out of this small town. She manages to convince Baltimore to take her with him if she helps him out of a jam. As the pair set sail, their ship is attacked by strange sea monsters and they end up stranded on a desert island covered in wrecked ships and submarines. But they're not alone.
Baltimore reads like Buffy with balls. That's not to say that Buffy doesn't have metaphorical balls to tackle hard issues. I'm saying that if Buffy was a man with a peg leg who had seen some pretty harsh shit in his life, then she would be Baltimore. This is really not surprising considering that Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy, is the co-writer of the book. Baltimore jumps into action without a moment's hesitation. He has nothing else to lose and he's fueled by vengeance. He just wants to take down the vampire that he feels has caused this whole mess.
Ben Stenbeck's art is a perfect fit for the story. It's dark and gritty with washed out colors. This makes the scenes with blood splattering really pop on the page. It also has an old world feel to it that reminds me of the look of some of the early horror comics. He's pretty creative, too, as no two zombies look alike throughout the book.
Baltimore is a story about loss and revenge, but since this is volume one of what will (hopefully) be a longer series, there's little closure involved. Our hero's quest continues. We're just given a glimpse into his past to have an idea of how he got to his current position in life but there's clearly more to this man. The five issues collected here flowed very quickly and left me wanting more.
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