Vampires and their history occupy a special place in our civilization’s history: they’re a wonderfully romanticized monster. Though there are many other things that go bump in the night, those other creatures haven’t fared so well, and a cynic like myself suspects it’ll only be a matter of time before all of them get their own teen-focused love stories. Me? I tend to prefer the darker, grimmer stories of good vs. evil – the kind where vampires are true villains needing to be dispatched to whatever netherworlds they may yet occupy – the kind of which fill up the BALTIMORE stories from Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. Though I’m new to their world, I totally ‘dug’ THE INFERNAL MACHINE.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Still on the hunt for Haigus – the vampire who eludes capture – Henry Baltimore finds himself suddenly called to Budapest where a judge demands the hunter pay for his sins. However, before their affairs can be put in order, Baltimore uncovers an elderly woman with some sinister intentions: it would appear she’s using plague victims to fuel an engine of evil, but just for what nefarious purpose escapes our hero. Still, it all harkens back to something that may lie in Baltimore’s past, and, unless he makes a stand when the time is right, he may have no future.
Mignola’s tales of monsters and madness have a certain aesthetic that may not appear to everyone’s tastes. I’ll admit that I’ve never been that big a fan of his HELLBOY universe; it isn’t for a lack of giving it a chance, it’s just that the characters and situations never much did anything for me. However, I can appreciate a talented storyteller, and I’m glad I’ve discovered this new mythos exploring vampires and their ilk. Plus, mingling this world alongside events of our own that portend darkness, death, and destruction is always a stroke of genius, so this is a ride I’ll keep taking as the installments come.
Given my unfamiliarity with Baltimore, I did have to do a modest amount of online reading to kinda/sorta bring me up-to-speed; as such, I’m not entirely certain that TRAIN is a great jumping on point for new readers. I would think that if you’re willing to do a modest amount of research to fill in a few small gaps, then I suspect you’ll be amply and pleasantly rewarded (as I was) for the effort.
BALTIMORE: THE INFERNAL TRAIN (Part 1 of 3) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden; the book is drawn by Ben Stenbeck; the colors are by Dave Stewart; and the lettering is done by Clem Robins. For those not in the know, this is a continuation of the overall BALTIMORE story, the creation of Mignola and Golden. The issue bears the cover price of $3.50 an issue.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. This isn’t TWILIGHT, folks. It’s an exceedingly dark time for which t set a vampire tale – just on the trailing cusp of World War I when all of mankind was plunged into a new dark ages with a world-spanning plague that threatened to wipe out humanity. Into this madness comes Henry Baltimore and the vampire Haigus … only this time Haigus’s trail is cold, and Baltimore himself believes he’s uncovered some foul affair in what’s supposed to be Budapest, a city supposed protected against the illness. As is often the case in the exploration of nightmares, no cessation lasts for very long.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital copy of BALTIMORE: THE INFERNAL TRAIN (Part 1 of 3) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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