The latest Baltimore one-shot is an engaging and gritty, post-WWI apocalyptic adventure, fascinatingly woven into a double feature that sees our protagonist battling vampire soldiers in England, and fiendish monsters in France. Chronologically set amidst the action in Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s graphic novel of which it’s based on, but prior to the events in “The Plague Ships”, “Baltimore: The Widow and the Tank” documents Lord Henry Baltimore’s travels killing monsters, in hopes of finding The Red King and avenging his family.
WRITTEN BY: Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden
ART BY: Ben Stenbeck
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: February 20th, 2013
This installment doesn’t particularly cater very well to new readers, but there’s something to be said for Mignola and Golden’s seemingly effortless ability when it comes to creating inviting page-turners, regardless of that fact.
The first story in this book is called “The Widow”, and it begins in the year 1916, in a quiet market town in Lincolnshire, England. The narrative follows our protagonist to the Yeardsley residence, where he enquires about the whereabouts of Lieutenant Albert Yeardsley, a rumored war deserter who happens to be connected to The Red King, also known as, Haigus, the lord of all Vampires. Mrs. Yeardsley, the direct and listless widow, refuses to divulge any information, but it isn’t long before Lord Baltimore discovers the truth and eradicates the evil preying on the town.
Aside from Baltimore’s unwavering pursuit of The Red King, and his excellence in battle, there’s not much the steadfast soldier gives away in terms of character and history; but for those familiar with the backstory, this one-shot is a commendable tie-in to the series.
The second tale is called “The Tank”, and it sees Baltimore in the Aquitaine Region of France, one month later. As he’s passing through the countryside, he learns of an old destroyed tank which is believed to be housing a vampire that feeds on children and cattle. But, when Baltimore investigates the situation, he finds something much more disturbing lurking in the shadows.
All in all, “Baltimore: The Widow and the Tank” is about a vengeful soldier who’d “rather die than cower in fear.” And while his bravery is worthy of admiration, new readers will probably feel distant from such an underdeveloped main character; but intrigued enough to potentially invest time on the past tales.
In terms of the visual aesthetic of the one-shot, the dark and chilling atmosphere, common in most gothic horror tales, is presented perfectly through Ben Stenbeck’s pencils, as he provides a stylistically old-fashioned take on Mignola and Golden’s world, evoking the somber tone of the story. He draws early 20th century era demons and vampires in a way that is unique to his creative style, which is only enriched by Dave Stewart’s colours. The latter’s use of dark tones and ashen hues fits the overall feel of the series remarkably well, but his best panels are arguably the ones which feature the rare splashes of overpowering reds.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd