Baltimore: The Witch of Harju #1
by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Peter Bergting and Dave Stewart
Mike Mignola’s titles surrounding the Hellboy Universe are each well made. Baltimore, the story of Lord Henry Baltimore has maintained the same method of being released in small arcs, while maintaining an overarching thread. Though the artist has shifted since its initial release, the visuals to the story still maintain some consistency through the excellent color work by Dave Stewart. In this new story, Mignola and Christopher Golden present readers with a new evil that finds Baltimore on his journey.
There is a real urgency in the opening pages of this new chapter. A woman emerges from the woods, on foot and in a tattered dress. Readers learn that the new setting is near Estonia. She is being pursued by someone, and soon she finds her way to a group of men, including Baltimore himself. A battle ensues between her pursuer and the men she has found in the road. It’s a well crafted fight sequence and despot a lot of effort and many methods, the men are unable to bring the attacker down. Fortunately, the attacker flees back towards the woods. Readers are likely thinking of zombies in this instance, though it would appear even a blow to the head offers little effect.
Over the next few pages readers not only learn the reality of this man’s situation, but also what occurred in the town from where the woman came. Sofia had been fleeing from her husband. It would appear some type of sacrificial area had been disturbed. In keeping with previous Baltimore stories as well as the general Hellboy Universe, the underlying cause appears to be some type of witchcraft. Once the characters head to town to have one of the men buried, readers learn a bit more about this curse and some bad omens. There is a bit of a formula to the Baltimore arcs at this point, and while often they offer some new aspects or advancement of the overall story, this first chapter does feel a bit light.
Series regular, Ben Stenbeck, is not on art duties this time around. Instead, Peter Bergting takes the helm. Dave Stewart definitely helps keeps the tone of Baltimore, but Bergting’s art is still different. The issue feels a bit lighter from Bergting’s cartooning. That in conjunction with a slightly simpler opening issue makes this return of Baltimore a little underwhelming. That being said, the first chapter has no problems and is still enjoyable. Hopefully the second issue dives a bit more into the mysteries of this new curse and amps up the suspense.