Baltimore returns in a one shot anthology. Two stories from Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden that as always are amazing. I read a lot of comics, and a lot of those comments get read on break at my second job (the one where I get breaks). Usually I’m sitting with a couple of other people, eating my dinner, reading a comic book. I don’t say much because I mostly just want to read, but when I finished this issue of Baltimore, I slid it back into the poly bag and said out loud, “That is a good one.” This issue collects two short tales, The Widow, and The Tank.
First is The Widow, Lord Baltimore has gotten wind of a lieutenant who though he died in combat made his way home with the men who served and died under him. As goes the world of Baltimore the lieutenant and his soldiers are some of the vampire scourge. After taking care of him and his cronies, Baltimore returns to the home of the widow. The widow who has been sustaining her husband with her own blood. He returns because though he understands that she only wanted to help the man that she loves, none of the evils that plague his world get to live.
The second story is The Tank. Baltimore arrives in a small town in France to hear the tale of a vampire that lives in an abandoned tank on the outskirts of town. As night approaches Baltimore confronts the creature in the tank who refuses to come out. The creature is trapped by something that is outside of the tank. The creature is not the killer in the town, there is something else. Something that is about to lash out at Lord Baltimore. During the confrontation that Baltimore has with these other creatures, the vampire attempts to make his escape, and fails.
These stories are about mercy. They are about putting down the animal that has become unhealthy and dangerous. Like Ole Yeller it is moving and poignant. In these two tales you can see that Lord Baltimore must face the most human decision when he is confronting the supernatural. He has made him self hard to confront the darkness, where the reader sees grey areas (a wife that just wants to be with her husband a little longer, a creature that hasn’t killed for a while because it is trapped), Baltimore only sees black and white. There is only the creature, and his need to destroy it. Mignola and Golden have their finger firmly on the pulse of what makes Baltimore special, the thing that makes this title one of my favorites.
Again the art from Ben Stenbeck and the color palate of Dave Stewart are brilliant. The black edges and corners, the muted earth tones punctuated by deep bright reds. It always evokes places of drab hopelessness, places that have lost the ability to even see light, let alone be illuminated by it.
If you aren’t reading the Baltimore series, this is a decent jump off. It is a simple anthology with a couple of stories that while not explicitly introducing Lord Baltimore give you a really good idea of what he is like, and who he is.