Saturday, June 02, 2012

Baltimore: The Curse Bells

Lord Henry Baltimore returns in another dark and brooding Graphic Novel, written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden and illustrated by Ben Stenbeck. Baltimore is still on the trail of the ancient vampire Haigus, whom he first encountered on the battlefield during World War One in the amazingly good prose novel Baltimore. This is Henry's second appearance in comics form. He hasn't mellowed any. Haigus crippled him and killed his family and Baltimore is willing to do just about anything to get revenge. Not that I blame him. In his situation I'd be much the same. I can't begin to tell you how truly creepy this story is, both in terms of art and writing. Mignola and Golden are both formidable writers of horror and this is strong stuff indeed. Vampires and nuns who are vampires and a madman who is probably Hitler and a shrunken homunculus who is definitely Helena Blavatsky.(Made from the dead woman's ashes and the blood of a vampire.) I mean this is warped stuff. Ben Stenbeck's art is understated, very down to earth, without the bombastic flourishes so often common in comics. Somehow this makes the story even scarier because he draws everything, be it demons, vampires, or whatever other horrors the writers have dreamed up, realistically and believably. The reader is trapped at ground level with these nightmare creatures. In his introduction to the story, writer Joe R. Lansdale, no stranger to horror aficionados, mentions that this comic will stay with you. I'll second that. I read the story right before bedtime and I was still running it through my head as I drifted off to sleep. I probably need some lighter reading material. Anyway, I recommended the novel Baltimore and the previous graphic novel The Plague Ships, and I definitely recommend The Curse Bells.

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