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Dark Horse Comics has released the fourth installment of Baltimore’s ”The Curse Bells” this week, and with only one issue left, the story is coming to its climax. Lord Baltimore has made his way into the chapel filled with cursed vampire nuns and is poised to find his nemesis, Haigus.
Written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden with artwork by Ben Stenbeck, this mini-series focuses on the details of Lord Baltimore’s journey to find Haigus, the vampire that he first met on the battlefield in a fight against the Hessians.
“The Curse Bells” is a continuation of “The Plague Ship” mini-series and an interlude for the middle of the book, “Baltimore,: Or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire,” which focuses on Lord Baltimore’s three friends and his meetings with them from the beginning of the plague.
As he inches closer to his goal of destroying the vampire that killed his family, Baltimore’s dedication in the epic quest demonstrates how far one will go in order to exact revenge. Baltimore is often shown as an anti-hero, only saving people as a by-product of his revenge, or after any other course of action would hinder or halt his goal.
This issue is no different. The crux of the story is based on Baltimore’s choice between continuing to hunt Haigus and stopping Madame Blavatsky from ringing the bells, damming all who hear the cursed ringing. “The Curse Bells” delves into the psyche of Baltimore. It shows that Baltimore, when given a choice between revenge and becoming a savior, would rather be damned and may already be.
The series was originally created with Mike Mignola, the creator of the Hellboy comics, and it shares many of the same artistic designs. In addition to Mignola’s influence on the artwork, Stenbeck is the primary artist for this mini-series, and he continues with the quality that has become associated with Hellboy. The dark colors contrast with splashes of blood-red add to the tension of the story.
Not only is the artwork high quality, the story and the writing are riveting as well. Christopher Golden co-wrote with Mike Mignola for both the novel and several comic series that have been produced so far. Mignola and Golden infuse the fourth installment with the poem The Bells from Edger Allan Poe, which gives an even darker tone to both the original poem and the story itself.
In addition to following Baltimore’s quest, the reader gets a look at the lives of those he affects, such as the teenager and child who lead him to the chapel that Haigus has entered. The weaving of these subplots with the main story adds to the depth of the characters, and allows the reader to see more of the universe that Baltimore is living in.
“The Curse Bells” still has more to go, and it looks like it is going to have just as satisfying of an ending as the original book and “The Plague Ship” mini-series. If you are a fan of Hellboy or the previous Baltimore material, you will enjoy “The Curse Bells.”