Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Review - Baltimore Empty Graves #1 (@DarkHorseComics)


One of the great things about the Hellboy mythos is that there's this whole part of history known to a select few that emphasizes the supernatural. Hellboy isn't the only character that lives in that world, but it's one of the more familiar titles in that regard. A similar concept is on display in Baltimore Empty Graves #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, illustrated by Peter Bergting, colored by Dave Stewart and lettered by Clem Robins.

With no bodies to bury, Baltimore lays to rest the memories of good friends, while the strange worshipers of the Red King make use of the corpses of his fallen allies.

Mignola and Golden are no strangers to dour fiction and Baltimore Empty Graves #1 is no exception. Most of the issue follows the characters in the act of digging graves while they discuss the honor in being buried without circumstance. The dialogue by Mignola and Golden is adept at conveying these concepts while at the same time propelling the story forward. Lord Baltimore maintains his reputation as the stalwart anchor for the other characters to gravitate toward, but even his generally morose take on life feels amplified by the events of the issue. There's also some great storylines being established in parallel with the gravedigging that Mignola and Golden use to set a sinister scenario for the characters to untangle themselves from.

The artwork by Bergting is a perfect fit for the atmosphere established by the script. The characters are rendered with a look indicative of general exhaustion, both physically and mentally. The post-World War setting is effectively conveyed through the use of European landscapes highlighted by the pale moonlight cast over them. Every panel by Bergting feels important and full of personality, as the characters range in appearance in a way that bolsters the aforementioned presentation of fatigue. Stewart's colors are soft and morose, further emphasizing the night setting that seems to exacerbate the terror of a character such as the Blood-Red Witch.

Baltimore Empty Graves #1 is one of the more unsettling entries in a series famed for its take on the macabre. The characters are in a situation that only seems to be getting worse the further into it they get into it and there are some aspects of the mythology they have to contend with. Mignola and Golden are more than familiar enough with this world that their stories just seem natural. Bergting's illustrations are somewhat erratic in a way that's befitting of the gloomy atmosphere pervasive throughout. Baltimore Empty Graves #1 is a great first issue that delves into familiar territory as far as the players and setting is involved.

Baltimore Empty Graves #1 is in stores April 6.


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