Lord Baltimore and his followers follow the trail of the Blood-Red Witch, but first stop in Odessa to honor their fallen comrades and share why they have joined Lord Baltimore’s war. How does it fare?
Baltimore: Empty Graves #1 is a tough book to jump into. Writers Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden definitely rely on readers having followed the story in the previous 30 issues of Baltimore. However, you are able to get the gist of what is happening and what the team’s mission is about halfway through.
The opening sequence adds to the difficulty in acquainting yourself with the story and the characters. The primary reason for this is the actual dialogue on the first page. The main character, Lord Baltimore, seemingly contradicts himself. In one sentence he notes the person he is interrogating has given up all hope for mercy, but then just a few panels later he is giving them the mercy he said they had no hope for. It’s really jarring.
After this initial sequence, the story gets much better and Mignola and Golden do some fantastic character moments. We are able to see the differing personalities who follow Lord Baltimore and their interactions with each other. It feels like a motley crew with some getting along and others butting heads. One thing is for sure they all believe in the mission.
The actual dialogue in this issue can be rather grim, but it really highlights why they are fighting as well as the consequences of their failure. It also shows just how dangerous the villain can be. Making the discussion even grimmer is the fact that Mignola and Golden will have Bergting cut away to depict a dark ritual that the Blood-Red Witch is performing or showing what has become of the soul of one of their own. It adds a tragic nature to the grim discussion.
Peter Bergting’s art is solid. It is especially good when Harish tells a story of why he fights in this war. He uses sharp pencils to add a level of creepiness and builds anticipation as Harish and his fellow soldiers enter a small village and the huts therein. You can feel the characters’ fear building and see it on their faces when he places them in shadows where you can only see the whites of their eyes.
Bergting even includes small details such as flies buzzing around the village, foreshadowing the horror found within. In some panels, he makes sure you see them, bringing them into the foreground. He also does a really good job of drawing decaying bodies. He adds the right touch of penciled lines to make the skin looked stretched. It is a truly horrifying sight that sets the tone for the rest of the book.
Baltimore: Empty Graves #1 is difficult for new readers to jump into and get their bearings. However, once you do the book offers some excellent character moments, a good sense of dark terror, and a villain that evokes fear from those who are pursuing her. Peter Bergting’s artwork is solid and does a good job of setting the scene and providing truly horrifying images of decaying bodies.
- Excellent character moments
- Good build-up of the villain
- Minor contradictions in the writing and characterization of Lord Baltimore
- Mignola and Golden rely on reader’s knowledge of past events
- Hard for new readers to find their bearings