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Baltimore: The Curse Bells #1
(Dark Horse – writers: Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden; art: Ben Stenbeck)
I have no prior knowledge of Baltimore, but I read that it’s a comic series based on a novel by Mike Mignola, and that “The Curse Bells” is the third series in Lord Baltimore’s saga. I probably should have gotten a better understanding of the series before diving into this issue because I found it to be uneventful, and a bit boring. While “The Curse Bells” has interesting characters, its story – about a vampire hunter searching for a man named Haigus – explains much more in the narrative than in the visuals.
Readers get a lot of backstory about Lord Baltimore from his thought boxes. The main villain of the story, Haigus, is explained as a pretty evil dude, but we never see him do anything evil. We see the results of his terrible deeds – which are pretty horrific – but there’s not even a single panel flashback that gives readers something to help them understand the connection between Baltimore and Haigus. And as elusive as Haigus is, the narrator is able to find his location by the end of the issue.
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This confuses me because 20 of the 22 pages in the issue concern themselves with how hard it is to find this vampire, and how he’s got people all around him lying to keep him safe. Yet the narrator stumbles into a bar in the final two pages, says the right things, and then gets the knowledge he needs to find his mortal enemy – and he happens to be staying at a church just up the street.
I guess this story would have worked better if the previous arc ended with Baltimore finding Haigus, and then this current arc started with him trying to kill him, because this issue reads more like a stalling tactic than anything else. It’s meant to keep readers interested, until the last two pages when their anxiety and suspense are diluted with a quick resolution.
I can’t really shitcan Baltimore, however, because I haven’t read the first two arcs. I’d like to track them down and catch up, but if the tone and mood of the third arc are going to be a slow cat-and-mouse game, you can count me out. I’ve had my fill of vampires anyway.