Monday, May 28, 2012

Baltimore – the Plague Ships – review

Story: Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden

Art: Ben Stenbeck

First published: 2011

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: After a devastating plague ends World War 1, Europe is suddenly flooded with vampires. Lord Henry Baltimore, a soldier determined to wipe out the monsters, fights his way through bloody battlefields, ruined plague ships, exploding zeppelins, and submarine graveyards, on the hunt for the creature who’s become his obsession.

The Review: I thoroughly enjoyed the book Baltimore, or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, though I had assumed it would be a graphic novel and it turned out to be prose.

The Plague Ships is a graphic novel, though (as the introduction by Joe Hill points out) it is not a sequel but a companion to the prose work. Once again we are in the nightmare world of Lord Henry Baltimore, a world in which vampires had fed upon the carrion of no-mans-land until the injured Baltimore fought back and awoke the vampires from their slumber. The vampires swept across Europe, bringing plague and undeath, revenants and vampires haunted communities.

Baltimore has a vendetta against one particular vampire, Haigus, who had killed and turned his family and wife – this in turn for the scar that Baltimore left across his face on the battlefield. Mignola and Golden also use this volume to tempt us with new concepts such as the strange, almost steampunk, mobile incinerator that we see momentarily but will be in future volumes, the new inquisition that rides through the countryside and giant phosphorescent flying jellyfish. However the key aspect is Baltimore versus the walking dead – be they revenants or vampires. The volume also recounts Baltimore’s backstory, useful for those who haven’t read the ealier prose volume.

I liked the stylistic brevity of Stenbeck’s artwork but liked even more that we were back in the brutal, utterly unromantic world of Lord Henry Baltimore. 8 out of 10.

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