Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Dark, Moody and BrilliantJune 14 2011
Jonathan Maberry -NY Times Bestseller
- Published on Amazon.com
LORD HENRY BALTIMORE is one of the most fascinating characters in recent horror fiction. I was captivated by his first appearance, in Baltimore,: Or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire (2007) and was delighted to see that creators Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden have brought the troubled, battered hero back for more arcane adventures.
This is intelligent, subtle and exciting storytelling at its very best. Highly recommended. And...give us more!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Not my usual fare, but still engagingJuly 7 2011
Wag The Fox
- Published on Amazon.com
I am a fan of the Hellboy movies, Mike Mignola wrote the comic books. I'm also a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Christopher Golden has written a few novels based in that universe I've read and enjoyed. So for these two storytellers to collaborate on a historical action/horror comic, set in Europe after the Great War, littered with vampires and zombies no less, I figured I ought to check it out.
Lord Henry Baltimore is a soldier with more scars than any man should have to bear. Not only is he battle-worn from his time in World War 1, but he watched his fellow soldiers ambushed on the battlefield or devoured by giant bats, had his leg amputated and replaced by a mechanical peg leg, lost his family, and found himself in a personal war and on the manhunt for a vampire who may be responsible for all of it.
Mignola and Golden have tapped into a swashbuckling adventure steeped in European history and myth, with plenty of horror and suspense on each page. Stenbeck's illustrations offer a slightly different style from what I'm used to seeing in more conventional comic books, namely the superhero genre. There is a storybook quality to many of the pages that offer a sense of antiquity, which seems well suited to the time period of the story. The dialogue comes off a bit grandiose at times, but I didn't find it too much of a deterrent.
My main criticism would have to be the lack of empathy I felt towards Baltimore's companion in this ordeal with the Plague Ships. Vanessa Kalderas, the daughter of a witch, who escapes a ravaged village for a chance at a better life is rather compelling in the beginning of the novel. But as the story progressed, she seemed to become less an actual character than a sounding board to Baltimore's reminiscences. Had it gone on much longer than it had, I'd have become annoyed with the book as a whole, but a great set piece towards the end of the book involving zombies, a strange fungus, and a seaside graveyard of battleships, felt quite rewarding.
There was even a hint of steampunk, with an airship in the first act, and some cool looking submariners in the third act.
It's some pretty good stuff, and despite some trouble for me to really rally behind Lord Baltimore at certain points in the book, I think this could be a good place to go for comic book fans looking for something that doesn't involve a caped crusader of some kind.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An imminently enjoyable, ongoing horror comicAug. 10 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Writer Mike Mignola moves away from the Hellboy universe he created to introduce readers to a new hero, Lord Henry Baltimore. Joined by cowriter and novelist Christopher Golden and artist Ben Stenbeck, Mignola presents a great addition to the canon of Victorian-inspired action/horror fiction.
Set during the years of the influenza plague following the end of World War I, the story follows vampires who have begun preying on the sick. Hunting those vampires is Lord Baltimore, an injured veteran of the war who first learned of the existence of vampires on the blood-soaked battlefields of Germany. Nearly killed there, he scarred one named Haigus and lost his leg to a gangrenous bullet wound. His confrontation with Haigus ignites a personal war between the two, and armed with a bevy of blades and guns, Baltimore stalks the quarantined streets of an old French village in search of retribution.
As a writer, Mignola is constantly inspired by gothic horror, and his work successfully captures the earlier romantic era of horror fiction. Baltimore: The Plague Ships marries its gothic sensibilities to a post-war setting that works really well and provides some innovative settings in which the story can unfold.
While Mignola and Golden aren't exactly reinventing the vampire genre, the trusty old warhorse of horror fiction if ever there were one, they at least populate it with interesting ideas and intriguing concepts. Setting their tale amidst a plague is a particular bit of genius that allows them to explore the vampiric infestation, as is their haunting submarine graveyard that sets up the book's finale.
Lord Baltimore himself is an intriguing character and readers will likely be rooting for him quickly. His fall from grace and his struggles against Haigus pack a strong emotional wallop, which makes the revenge-driven narrative easily relatable. From a design standpoint, like Hellboy's giant stone fist, Baltimore is made instantly iconic by his wood-and-leather jointed peg leg, studded by a series of nails. It's a great twist and speaks of the trials and agony he has suffered during and after the war.
Stenbeck's art is serviceable, but too often lacks clarity and detail. It's a nitty-gritty affair, which serves the book's atmosphere well, but unfortunately lends it an inconsistent appearance. The characters surrounding Baltimore, and of course Baltimore himself, are usually afforded a few close-up portraits that are nicely detailed, but when they are subsequently drawn, they quickly lose facial details and are often relegated to just being blob-like bipedal shapes. These moments of rushed and muddied artwork are a shame because Stenbeck proves to be quite a capable draftsman, as the supplemental sketchbook and pinups indicate. Taken as a whole, the artwork isn't bad and, in fact, has some truly amazing and wicked moments, but it suffers from a lack of attention to detail. Dave Stewart's coloring saves it from being a total loss, and gives the book a subdued, dark atmosphere that serves the writing's tone suitably.
The Plague Ships moves along at a rapid clip and presents some great, original ideas to a well-worn segment of the horror genre. Stenbeck is able to translate Mignola's and Golden's script adequately, and creates several powerful, pin-up worthy images. One in particular, of the undead submarine crew reanimating, some clad in armored dive suits, is stunning and awesome.
In the end, Baltimore is a strange but imminently enjoyable ongoing horror comic that's inspired by equal parts Dracula and Moby Dick. It introduces a terrific new vampire-hunting hero and establishes a strong plague-filled playground for the book's creators to run wild with.
-- Michael Hicks
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Vampires and Mushroom MenDec 11 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Many of us who read the prose novel Baltimore,: Or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire were wondering what Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden were going to do with the character. It was obvious that there was more story to tell, but what format would those stories take? A series of novels? Short stories? Or would Mignola and Golden take the character to the medium that Mignola knew so well.
With The Plague Ships we got our answer. Taking the novel as a launching point--but not slavishly so--"Baltimore: The Plague Ships" further develops the that the Right Honourable the Lord Henry Richard Baltimore, 13th Baron Baltimore,of Boscastle in County Durham and his rivalry against the vampire Haigus. Baltimore is no longer quite the Steadfast Tin Soldier of the novel, but more of a grim, harpoon-slinging action hero doing battle with zeppelin-flying Kaiser vampires.
The story gives you everything you need to know about Baltimore including his back story, so you don't need to have read the book to enjoy the comic. The series starts with Baltimore landing on a vampire-haunted village, cleaning up the town in classic action-hero style, Then sailing off on a cursed ship to fight mushroom-people and steam punk diving suits on a haunted isle.
This first volume in the Baltimore series has its flaws. The story is a jumble. Mike Mignola has been on record for years in wanting to incorporate some William Hope Hodgins (The Ghost Pirates) influence into his stories as well as a fungus-themed villain. The Hellboy: Library Editions have featured his sketches on this a few times. He finally got the chance to do so, but it just doesn't flow.
Overall, I think there are too many ideas cannibalized from other series and packed into this story. Along with the island and the fungus monsters, he re-used the Victorian steam punk diving suits from Abe Sapien which looked cool there but just don't work as well in Baltimore's Gothic style. All of the bit parts are good enough individually, but stitching together the various elements, along with Baltimore's origin story, leads to a less-than-great reading experience.
The art is also uneven. Ben Stenbeck doesn't really have a grip on Baltimore as a character and while there are little flashes of brilliance here and there on a whole the art never rises to an amazing level. Stenbeck's backgrounds and scenery are incredible, but he just doesn't have the same fluency with figures. The King of Colors Dave Stewart does only his usual level of brilliance, which means that even on his worst day he puts every other colorist to shame.
The good news is, everything gets better. Amazingly better. I have read the follow-up series, "Baltimore: The Curse Bells," which is a phenomenal piece of comic art and one of the best horror comics I have ever read. So pick up and read "Baltimore: The Plague Ship" if for no other reason than as preparation for a comic that is going to shiver your bones, churl your stomach, and blow your mind a little.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Mike Mignola he is just the best!!!Sept. 13 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Being a a big fan of Mignonloa I may not have an opinion objective enough. Saying that, let me tell you that I find Baltimore The Plague Ships an excellent complement and continuation of the Baltimore Novel.
Lets face it, what is there not to like from a parallel universe where the human conflict of the WWI ends due to a conflict of one man against a Vampire but with huge repercutions?