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Baltimore: The Plague Ships #4

A comic review article by: Ray Tate
Marooned on a haunted isle, Lord Baltimore relates a sad episode from his history to his companion Vanessa. Unbeknownst to them, evil blooms.

Previously, Lord Baltimore unwittingly declared war on the vampires that fed from the dying and recent dead littered on the battlefields. At least that was the claim made by Haigus, the vampire leader, but if you ask me, the declaration begins here. Lord Baltimore married his childhood sweetheart Elowen and they would have lived happily ever after had it not been for the scarred monster that invaded Lord Baltimore's life.

I don't think I'm really spoiling anything by suggesting a tragedy strikes Lord Baltimore, one that changes his fate forever. That part of the book is a little predictable, but the execution of the deed draws on the horror of actual horror movies, as opposed to weak-kneed PG-13 goofs and torture porn. I speak of Hammer.

The result of Haigus’ visitation is similar in tone to the terrors Christopher Lee's Dracula inflicted on the innocent. The death of Lord Baltimore's beloved echoes the undeserved demise of Zena from Dracula Has Risen from His Grave. She was but a randy serving wench with a head on her shoulders that was practically lopped off. The undead victim’s damaged state alludes to Lucy's end after Peter Cushing's Van Helsing burns her with the cross. A monk that arrives on the scene to force Lord Baltimore into action recalls Andrew Keir's heroic vampire fighting Father Sandor from Dracula Prince of Darkness. Both are bearded madman who take great pleasure in killing vampires.

If you're treading in the footfalls of these classic terrors, yet still producing original grotesques--courtesy of Ben Stenbeck and the bright red of Dave Stewart--then you're doing something right. Baltimore: Plague Ships is a treat for people who know that vampires are disgusting monsters that pervert the dead for their own gruesome amusement. I foresee a Bram Stoker Award in the creative team's future.

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