Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden
Artwork: Bridgit Connell
Colours: Michelle Madsen
Release Date: 24th March 2021
It is 1938 and the opening shots of the Second World War have been fired, but Sofia Valk, now Lady Baltimore, is waging her own war. It seems that her now dead husband’s war is not over, and Sofia must gather old allies and continue the battle against a new army of witches, vampires, and monsters – all without becoming a monster himself.
I was a huge fan of the original series of Baltimore. It’s a story I’ve revisited many times over the last ten years, and as a title that stands outside of the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. Mignolaverse, it’s one that I thought was dead and buried at the end of The Red Kingdom. I’m therefore, quite excited to see that there is new life being breathed into the series in the form of Lady Baltimore.
Sofia is older and wiser in this series. She’s cutting her own swathe through the evil plaguing Europe, and building her own alliances along the way. In this first issue, we are introduced to a new set of characters, as well as being introduced to several familiar faces. There’s also a significant shift in allegiances in this series; the Orphic society has become far more active and Rigo Kirill, always a dubious character in the original series, has somehow managed to become even less sympathetic and even more scheming.
On the face of it, this is a good start to the series, if perhaps a little disjointed. If you haven’t read the original Baltimore series then I’m going to say right now that this is not a good jumping on point, and I’d recommend you reading Baltimore first. Not that you should consider this a hardship, of course, as Baltimore is a really well-crafted horror series by one of the absolute masters of the genre.
Assuming you’re already familiar with the world of Lord Henry Baltimore and his band of Vampire Hunters, then this should be easy enough for you to pick up and get straight into. Reading this first issue, there is the welcome comfort of this being a continuation of a long running series from a very well established creative team. With that in mind, I have to say that I think this is the first time I’ve seen Bridgit Cornell’s work, but she certainly has the right style, and while I can’t hand on heart say that everything in the art worked for me, nothing really took me out of the story. And, having visited her website, I think that Cornell definitely has the chops to make her mark on the Mignolaverse.
Outside of the artwork, and I feel almost disloyal saying this, something just doesn’t gel for me in this issue. It isn’t as polished as it should be, and it seems a bit rushed. I have been a fan of Mike Mignola (and the wealth of creators working with him) for over 25 years. His books take up a little over two and a half metres of shelf space in my collection (and that’s just the collected editions, not the floppies), and have been a huge influence on my reading habits over the last two decades. I find it very hard to be critical of the work of someone that has had such an influence on me, but this issue was just missing something.
Ultimately, is this criticism going to stop me from reading this series? No, it won’t. I will most likely wait for the trades to come out and read them that way, and on the pedigree of the team and the previous story, I think it will be another story that I’ll be glad I have on my shelves.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek