Review – Baltimore: Chapel of Bones #1 (of 2) (Dark Horse Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writers: Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden
Artists: Ben Stenbeck
Release Date: 31st December 2013

It would seem that murdering Captain Baltimore’s entire family was a bad idea. Revenge is on the cards.

The story begins on a train heading for London. The reader can see the surroundings; eaves drop on passengers and see some of the plague ridden inhabitants get stopped from boarding at gun point. It’s a classy opening where we know where we are, when we are, where we’re headed, we see the plague and the general public’s attitude towards it. All of this is skilfully shown in a single page.

The plot unfolds gradually as we get reacquainted with the characters. The dialogue is direct and loaded with back story without it ever sounding too unnatural. There are a few big fat speech bubbles here and there but the conversation is always interesting and the long articulate sentences are perfect for the Gothic genre. The whole book feels very thoroughly realised by the creative team.

The art is impressively bleak. The aptly named “Ugly Muse” pub is completely miserable and every background character looks doomed and desperate. There are loads of nice little touches dotted around which further add to the doom. Shadows cling to everything and there are a few great panels in the sunset and moonlight.

This a conventional Gothic horror filled with torment, pity and the supernatural; even the opening train journey conjures up memories of Dracula. It’s the human characters however that defy these expectations because they are somehow tough enough to handle it all. Seriously, Satan himself could attack these guys and they’d bravely stand their ground and pull a blade. I found the whole thing fascinating.

This is the first comic I have that’s dated 2014 and a sublime piece of Gothic Horror is a great way to kick off the New Year.

Rating: 8/10.

The writer of this piece was: James McQueen
You can also find James on Twitter.

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