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Comic review: Baltimore: The Plague Ships 

Baltimore: The Plague Ships No. 1

Published by Dark Horse Comics. Written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. Art by Ben Stenbeck.

The Deal: Last seen in a prose novel by creators Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, the peg-legged vampire hunter Lord Henry Baltimore is now in comic book format with a brand-new adventure. And although the book features Mignola's trademarked creepiness, Baltimore doesn't dwell in the same "universe" as his most famous creation — Hellboy.

The Good: In a world dominated by so-called "shiny vampires," Baltimore is a welcome throwback. You won't find any cross-species romance within this comic's pages, but you will find ugly bat/man hybrids ... who usually happen to be on the receiving end of a cold steel blade. Unsurprisingly, the title is drenched in blood and practically pulsates with a sense of dread. And yes, those are good things; this is, after all, a horror comic. From an art perspective, Ben Stenbeck showed off his talents most recently on Dark Horse's Witchfinder limited series. But in the pages of Baltimore, it appears that his lines are becoming more crisp and confident. He draws shadowed men and monsters almost as well as Mignola, but Stenbeck doesn't use the darkness as a way to cover up his flaws.

The Bad: I'm not exactly sure why Baltimore isn't part of the Hellboy franchise. This book's vampire hunter tales seem to match the atmosphere of Mignola's famed occult investigator. Would bringing these two together be such a bad idea? Of course, that gripe has no bearing on the quality of this issue.

The Verdict: Take a Twilight break and get to know some ugly-ass vampires.

Quick hits

Magnus Robot Fighter No. 1: Writer Jim Shooter returns to Magnus, a character he made famous in the 1990s. But I enjoyed this issue's backup feature, a reprint of the original first issue from the 1960s by creator Russ Manning, more than the main story. The Verdict: Get it for the reprint.

Red Hood: The Lost Days No. 3: Writer Judd Winick is hated by many fanboys, but his tales about the resurrection of former-Robin Jason Todd are undeniably entertaining. The Verdict: It's shockingly good.

Batman: Widening Gyre No. 6: Written by film director Kevin Smith, this limited series lulled me into a sense of comfort — which makes the final issue's last page so unexpected. The Verdict: Buy it, but don't flip to the end.

Reviewed materials provided by Heroes Aren't Hard to Find: www.heroesonline.com.

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