Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Early Graphic Novel Review - Baltimore: The Plague Ships by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Joe Hill, Ben Stenbeck, Dave Stewart (2/5 stars)

Baltimore Volume 1: The Plague ShipsReading level: Adult
Genre: Horror/Graphic Novel
Size:  136 pages

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Release Date: June 28, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1595826732
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in the Baltimore series
Source: eGalley from
Rating: 2/5 stars

I saw a preview of this graphic novel on free comic book day and was excited to get a e-Galley of it through netgalley(dot)com.  I was hoping for something a bit Hellsingish with lots of vampires and war.  Well I got lots of vampires and war; but that was about it.

Lord Baltimore is on a quest to hunt down an evil vampire overlord.  He is searching over land cursed with the plague which turns people into mindless vampire/zombies.  In a village he meets up with a girl named Vanessa who wants to accompany him on his quest.

When I read the synopsis for this graphic novel it reminded me of Hellsing, and it kind of is reminiscent of Hellsing in that there are lots of evil vampires and it takes place in the same era.  Unfortunately the story here is very predictable and typical and didn't have a lot of complexity to it.  Basically Lord Baltimore lost everything and has sworn to take out the evil vampire responsible.  The world is a grim place in the grip of a plague, basically somewhat post-apocalyptic.

Lord Baltimore is a grim anti-hero of sorts; he knows how to kill but is hollow inside.  He doesn't seem to have much more depth outside of that.  The woman Vanessa who joins him was similarly spineless.  She wants to accompany on his quest so bad and then when things get rough she is all like "I want to go home!"  I was not impressed. 

On a side note what is up with Vanessa's dress?  She embarks on a vampire hunting adventure wearing an off-the sholder getup that miraculously stays balanced precarioulsy on her breasts and upper arms throughout.  Okay I know not a lot of women read these things and they are aimed at men, but a little realism here...maybe some creativity would be nice.  Let's at least dress the girl in a some tight pants and a shirt that defies gravity in an interesting way.  It was just oddly impractical and bland...okay moving on.

The illustration was so-so.  These pictures don't have the depth of color I've come to associate with high quality graphic novels.  The people are pretty cartoony looking and their facial expressions aren't captured very well.  The action scenes are blocky and full of a lot of "pow" and "bam" type of bubbles.  For those who are into this more traditional form of catoonish artwork this might work; but for an epic story like this I expected better.  The art definitely didn't awe me at all, it was pretty bland and matched the story in that aspect.

Overall I read this and didn't really enjoy it that much. The story is very linear and boring and takes itself very seriously; the characters are cardboard cut-outs...filled with scenarios we have seen before.  The character of Vanessa especially is a complete joke.  The artwork is okay but nothing spectacular.  I won't be reading anymore from this series.  I would recommend the Locke and Key graphic novel series, the Fables graphic novel series and the Hellsing manga series in place of this one.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge
- 100+ Reading Challenge
- Graphic Novels Challenge List

Baltimore Volume 1: The Plague Ships 

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