In Review: Baltimore: The Red Kingdom #3

This issue of Baltimore has got it all, and on the cover they've got Baltimore.

The cover: Baltimore is surrounded by every type of horror: the undead, witches, monsters, werewolves, vampires, and a ton of tentacles. Ben Stenbeck has created a terrific cover that shows the reader what the title character is up against in this final saga. The variety of foes is outstanding, and the coloring on this is excellent: Baltimore is in in different shades of gray, revealing much of his nature, while the creatures are in different shades of red that liken them to their master, the Red King. Perfect cover. Overall grade: A

The story: Last issue I bemoaned that not much was happening, save dialogue. Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden make up for that in this issue. The heroes are on the move in a caravan of cars and Baltimore and Rigo are in the same vehicle. Rigo is asked by Baltimore if he’ll “stand firm” in this final battle, to which he responds, “I never wanted to be a pawn. Not the Inquisition’s, not God’s, and certainly not yours.” This has Baltimore get introspective and say, “We’re all pawns, you fool. None more so than myself.” That’s when a vehicle explodes. The protagonists exit their transports to battle the creatures attacking, but Baltimore is held back by Rigo. “No! You can’t risk yourself. We can’t risk the Red King knowing that you’re alive!” As his allies battle, he remains in his car, angry at not being able to join in the fray. Meanwhile, on the Albanian coast, the Red Witch enters the Red King’s room and he reveals much to her and the reader. Pages 6 and 7 bring to light one reason why the Red King has not been wholly victorious, and perhaps a possible downfall for him. Doctor Rose continues to be an ominous figure. Is he an ally or a hidden foe? His conversation with Rigo is engaging and the masked man’s final words on 11 foreshadow darkness. The strongest scene of the issue is the taking of Vatican City by the Red King and his minions. There is no one to challenge them; they walk in and take the iconic setting. The structures’ reaction to his entrance is fantastic. The book ends with the heroes continuing to move closer, undercover, but the final page shows that they may be in over their heads. This was a big improvement over last issue. Overall grade: A

The art: The book begins with the caravan of cars, focusing first on Rose and his driver. This pair is, supposedly, working with the heroes, but their visages make them uncomfortable to look upon. Moving to Baltimore’s car, Peter Bergting introduces the hero looking at Rigo with absolute hate, but upon receiving a harsh response, his face melts to a man that has come to accept his lot in life. This somber face provides an excellent, shocking transition on Page 2 that opens with an explosion and becomes a violent free-for-all. The top of the third page is a wonderfully ghoulish rising of the dead, followed by the heroes’ reply. Though it’s from a distance, the third panel on that page shows the villains’ point of view as they race to attack; I especially like the flying witch. Baltimore is the final image on Page 4 and he is absolute pained that he cannot help his friends. The Red Witch’s introduction is awesome, as is the peek of the Red King on 5. The horror that tops 6 shows him to be the monster he’s described as. The staging of the characters on 6 and 7 is Shakespearean with their dramatic gestures; their movements amplify their words tremendously. Rose and Rigo’s scene had me on edge, with both being shifty. As with the story, Vatican City’s scenes are the book’s high point. They are grand, blasphemous, and visual showcases. I haven’t seen anything this so filled with evil since Darth Vader strode the bridge of the Executor. The footsteps of the Red King are a nice touch. The book ends with the heroes secreted away, or so they thought. The large panel on the final page is gloriously deviant. Overall grade: A

The colors: Red is such a strong color in this book, for obvious reasons. The lack of it on the first page nicely lulls the reader into a false sense of security, making him or her believe that, following in the path of the previous issue, there will be much dialogue. The explosion of orange and red on 2 completely changes the tone and pacing of the book. Everything has become these colors, even the characters are tainted by their evil shades. The reds become darker when the Red Witch is on the page, and the white skin of the Red King allows his vivid red eyes to dominate his presence. Sounds also come to the forefront, thanks to Michelle Madsen’s colors. I really like the cool blue sounds on 12 and 13. Overall grade: A

The letters: Clem Robins is responsible for the dialogue, sounds, yells, screams, and whispered miseries. With the end of the world imminent, yells and screams are expected and Robins presents an excellent variety of them, as on the second page from Rigo as he tries to restrain Baltimore. Sounds spring to live within Vatican City, with the Red King’s aftermath creating several. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A big improvement from last issue. Action, plotting, and the fall of a holy place. This issue of Baltimore has got it all, and on the cover they’ve got Baltimore. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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