By Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Ben Stenbeck, & Dave Stewart
The sporadically released Baltimore books have been leading up to something big for quite some time now. The current mini-series, The Infernal Train, had a terrific start last month that had really begun to bring some interesting developments together in one place. However, The Infernal Train #2 is easily one of the top issues of the Baltimore series so far.
Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden have been crafting an interesting story involving not only Lord Baltimore himself, but also Inquisitor Duvic and a mysterious woman traveling the rails with a group of Ancient Ones and their horde of minions. The latest installment was incredibly action-packed and fast-paced, particularly compared to previous stories. The issue picks up right where we left off last month, as Baltimore and Duvic engage in battle. The scene quickly erupts into chaotic fighting, however, as both the local guard and a legion of vampire minions soon enter the fray. Most of this issue was devoted to covering this particular conflict, but this didn’t seem to require any sacrifice in the actual plot. During the fighting, the characters of Baltimore and Duvic are even further fleshed out through excellent dialogue. The writing is intelligent throughout and provides a lot of poignant commentary on religious extremism. Surprisingly enough, there were even a couple of quite humorous moments throughout all of this. Furthermore, the aspect of the story involving the ancient vampires has gotten even more intriguing and interesting; we’re treated to more background on their apparent scheme, but just enough to suggest new questions and introduce greater mystery into the story, which consistently keeps readers engaged.
The artwork in any Baltimore series is fairly typical in style for most Mignola books, but that’s not to say it isn’t fantastically executed or well-suited to the subject matter. Ben Stenbeck and Dave Stewart make a great team, and their work really shines in The Infernal Train #2. Appropriate for the high degree of action in this issue, Stenbeck’s visuals help illustrate the dynamic nature of the battle, which could have easily felt stagnant and wooden. The panels have a great flow to them, however, which really made this scene feel energetic and wide-ranging. Given that Dave Stewart is typically involved in any of Mike Mignola’s projects it is no surprise that the job he does in the latest issue of Baltimore was absolutely perfect. His colors really help convey the overall feel of the series with the grim, dark tones that are also rich and lush in appearance; the color palette he employs somehow makes the book feel bright and grim simultaneously. This is particularly effective when introducing the deep shades of red in the background while showing the Ancient Ones.
This creative team is known for consistently high-quality work, but The Infernal Train #2 had to be one of the most exciting issues of Lord Baltimore’s saga thus far. The story has continued to develop in an intriguing direction, while most of this installment was surprisingly action-packed and quick-paced. Mignola and company seem to hit all the right notes with this one, and it will be interesting to see how they wrap up the current arc next month.