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Review: Baltimore – The Curse Bells

Review: Baltimore - The Curse Bells

baltimore the curse bellsWorld War I has ended abruptly and everyone’s attention is now on the plague that’s devastated the world’s population. Worse, not only are some of the dead coming back to life, but vampires have shown up throughout Europe too, including the king of the vampires, Haigus. His nemesis is Lord Baltimore, a soldier who plods through the ravaged landscape, sworn to revenge Haigus killing his family and brutalizing his wife. The Baltimore series follows his adventures, and The Curse Bells offers some new characters and a dark twist to the tale.

Baltimore has a new associate in this story arc, Boston Globe reporter Simon Hodge. Actually, he’s not part of the Globe any more: he started filing stories about the vampire problem and was promptly fired from the newspaper. He’s fearless, if a bit clueless, and travels with Baltimore as they encounter a cursed monastery where the nuns have been turned towards evil.

Peeking in the window, they see an abomination poised to occur, a horrible scene led by someone we can only assume is a warlock. Who is he? What’s his story, and what the deuce is going on? There’s a witch called Blavatsky who’s central to the story (though she doesn’t show up until the latter half of the tale) and when the warlock requests a favor from her in return for him bringing her back to life, she agrees. And that favor ties into the carillon bells in the monastery, a favor so ghastly that it’ll be a great tragedy if they’re rung.

Baltimore isn’t without other enemies, either, and readers of the series won’t be surprised when Inquisition judge André Duvic shows up to do God’s work and try to purge sinners of their evil in ways that are too graphic to even portray in the story. Baltimore’s quest is to find and kill Haigus. Duvic’s quest is to find and “cleanse” Baltimore. And the chase continues.

baltimore the curse bells, detail

Interestingly, Haigus is not actually in control of the monastery nor of the warlock, so when Baltimore encounters him, old hatred simmers while he tries to figure out the best way forward. Kill Haigus or stop the warlock and Blavatsky from completing their curse? There are no easy answers in the world of Lord Baltimore, but there is a great style that’s kept throughout the tale, including some remarkably chilling illustrations, and a powerful hero’s journey though a dark world that keeps the series moving forward, series after series.

Baltimore: The Curse Bells, written by Mike Mignola, art by Christopher Golden, lettering by Ben Stenbeck. Published by Dark Horse Comics, published May 2012.

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