"Baltimore: Volume 2 - The Curse Bells" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally Published as Baltimore: The Curse Bells #1-5
Written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Illustrated by Ben Stenbeck
2011, 146 Pages
Graphic Novel released on May 30th, 2012
What do you do when you're confronted with a horde of vampire nuns? You stab them in the throat with a harpoon. That's how Lord Baltimore does it. He's the most badass vampire hunter that has ever hit comics. His latest adventure, The Curse Bells, brings him incredibly close to Haigus, the undead bastard that he first encountered on the battlefields of World War I. After Baltimore tore out his eye, Haigus went on to kill the man's entire family, turning them into the very beast that he now hated. After hunting them all down, Baltimore's now on the maker's trail and nothing will prevent him from gaining his vengeance.
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Of course, nothing is ever that easy for Baltimore. It's bad enough that he's got a peg leg and his family is all dead. You'd think that would be enough to satisfy karma. Instead he gets these side projects that pop up along his path. He has a one track mind in terms of finding Haigus, but that journey often leads through areas where people really need his help or places where some bad guys are up to some pretty heinous stuff. The Curse Bells is no different. He's got to stop a mad priest from turning an entire town into his zombie army. You know, just a normal day.
Fortunately, this priest is using Haigus's blood to raise a witch from the dead. This could be the case hitting two birds with one stone. Baltimore takes this on the only way he knows how: By brutally murdering every creature that gets in his way. Whether they're vampires, demons, or anything else that lurks in the shadows, they all perish beneath his blade. He never doubts himself. He never falters. He just continues on. This is man driven by the thirst for revenge and it has been far too long since he's had a taste.
As if this great story wasn't enough for The Curse Bells, it's aided by Ben Stenbeck's stellar art. He gets to play a bit with a variety of enemies for Baltimore. The vampires in this world are unique. When they die, a fiery red bird escapes from their mouths. It's a great effect and very creepy, especially when Baltimore is tearing through a group of them and they all take to the air in a flock. There's a great scene about halfway through the book where Baltimore and his companion are trying to sneak into the church to put a stop to this whole mess. Suddenly the entire crowd is alerted to their presence. All at once, at least two dozen vampire nuns turn and look up at them. It's such a chilling panel as Stenbeck framed it like they're all staring right at you with their glowing red eyes.
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Baltimore is a reluctant hero. He's a man that only wants one thing in life and is forever marching towards that goal. However, he can't turn away from someone in need, especially when they're being attacked by something supernatural. He's a monster hunter, although I doubt he'd ever accept that title. Baltimore's just a guy that wants vengeance. I almost pity Haigus when he finally achieves it.