Monday, September 2, 2013
"Come along traveler. We shall purify you."
Traveling in war times is never easy. Traveling in war times with vampires roaming the streets isn't much better. It's the latter that concerns Dark Horse in Baltimore: The Infernal Train #1 and that concern makes for fascinating reading.
Baltimore: The Infernal Train #1 is written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, illustrated by Ben Stenbeck, colored by Dave Stewart and lettered by Clem Robins.
The world is in dire straits. At the tail end of a war and with a vampire plague in full swing, people are desperate to find safety somewhere. Budapest turns out to be a fairly popular destination, sending Lord Henry Baltimore there in search of a ruthless vampire named Haigus. What he finds there is a little bit of surprise: besides the requisite vampires who seem to be increasing their numbers, there's also a train with the capacity for burning said vampires. It's the train that proves a bit more interesting, considering Lucrezia Fulcanelli seems to have something grander in mind for her purification method.
Mignola and Golden have offered another tale that feels sufficiently supernatural, but in a way that's somewhat grounded in reality. The truth for the people of the world is that vampires are real and they're a threat. They're also viewed as a plague and there are some within the religious groups who think soul purification is a possible remedy. Others feel that swords and weapons work even better. Baltimore: The Infernal Train #1 exists somewhere at the intersection of all that, presenting an enemy who's evil and ruthless, both in the vampires and potentially Lucrezia.
Stenbeck's art is very well done. At this point, it's hard to make vampires look scary considering how much they've been used in all facets of pop culture. Stenbeck does though subtly, characterizing them as fear-inducing largely through their affinity to move in large groups. Characters maintain the Victorian presence that the work is clearly looking for and there's a lack in detail in much of the illustrations that really helps with the work overall.
This is the first in a three-issue miniseries, yet still manages to pack a lot into the pages. Lord Baltimore must contend with both finding (and presumably dispatching Haigus) and the burgeoning issue in Lucrezia. Vampires may not be the bigger concern when framed within the theater of war that permeates the world. Lord Baltimore is more than capable of handling both issues, but it remains to be seen what's left after everything is said and done. Still, these should be a fun three issues.
Baltimore: The Infernal Train #1 is in stores September 4 with interiors below.