REVIEW: Baltimore, Empty Graves #3 (of 5)

Middle issues are where I feel many mini series can come undone.  If you think about it, the first two issues of a five-part story are all about setup, third issue is a transition moving towards a staggered two issue conclusion.  In many cases, it seems to me that all the hard work goes into the first couple of issues, with conclusions almost forgone.  Reading this series however, writers Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden have a tight rein on the creations story.

Baltimore’s search for the Blood-Red Witch continues through Constantinople, leading to a race against time to find a Royal Princess in the sea of  the Sultan Mistresses, whilst other members of Baltimore’s group seeks a translation of a book that may contain a way to rid the world of the “God before Gods” otherwise known as the Red King.

By now, fans of the Mignola / Golden pairing, or fans of Baltimore himself, will pretty much know what you are going to get.  This issue is no different at least in context of the long running series.  However, halfway through the book, the pace quickens and the reader can almost feel the desperation in Baltimore’s quest.  Maybe he is getting close to his goal or maybe time is running out and the Red King will win this round through his proxy the Blood-Red Witch.  Whatever the reason, it comes as a welcome relief.  I have commented on story compression before and how it affects a mini series.  Here, the transition nature of being the middle issue, allows Mignola and Golden to start sowing the seeds for the upcoming conclusion.

Artist Peter Bergting continues in much the same vein as in previous issues.  If you are a fan you will love it; if not there isn’t anything that spectacular that may change your mind.  I enjoy Bergting’s work.  It fits the tone of Baltimore’s adventures well covering different elements of the story well.  For example there is the supernatural element that requires action and pace through the panels and you also have to conversational parts, in the first act particularly, which requires shadows and foreboding.  Unusually, Dave Stewart is not on colors.  In his place is Michelle Madsen who steps up to the plate, delivering a strong job, complimenting Berting’s use of shadows that harken back to Mignola’s artistic days.

It’s been a while since I hung out in Baltimore’s world.  Whilst I can’t say I haven’t really missed looking at the book, I am glad to see that his quest is heating up.  Regardless of the victor in  this mini series, I can’t help that Baltimore will definitely be a step closer to the final battle against his arch nemesis.

Writing – 4 Stars
Art – 3.5 Stars
Colors – 4 Stars

Publisher: DARK HORSE COMICS
(W) Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden (A) Peter Bergting (CA) Ben Stenbeck
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