mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Harlequin Soldier.

baltimore: or, the steadfast tin soldier & the vampire by mike mignola & christopher golden.

perhaps there is a red shadow that hangs over the dreams of some crooked few. i've seen it before; in my game, the hideous demon-god of mirrors is Red; i've seen its echo or seed or perhaps most aptly, reflection, in all kinds of things. the thing in the mirror maze in conan the destroyer, for instance, or stephen king's own wicked santa claus in the dark tower. mignola has found that leech-thing as well, & written quite a nice bit of ruin for it. now, i have my concerns with mignola: conceptually, i think his stuff is brilliant. hellboy, or anung un rama, the Beast of revelation, summoned by nazis, but turned to good by the american dream. how golden is that!? & his art, shit. half albrecht dürer, half jack kirby, with enough thick dark lines to make it really seem a shadowed, haunted story. thing is? the story? tends to disappoint. to leave you hanging. to just...not quite do it. i don't know what it is; partly the flow of panels loses details, maybe the pacing is off, whatever-- it doesn't work for me, & i want it to.

i hoped this novel, with a new format & a co-author, that would be overcome-- & it was. hallelujah, he said to the night. the story follows the hunter (different animal than your slayer)-- your simon belmont, your van helsing. or really, the story dances around the hunter, mostly told in a ghost-story canterbury tales frame, as three of baltimore's "friends" wait for him to come to meet them. the cycle requires each of the three to tell their story regarding baltimore, & then their own personal horror story. not to shabby; you've got your devil werebears, your hideous marionettes, your evil water spirits. the vampires though! the story lets go of rhyme or reason regarding the bloodsuckers, & to great effect. why bother coming up with "rules" for your bats if you can just play on conventions, run with the old infernal pig skin as it were? the choice of what direction to take your vampire story always looms- this goes original enough to entrance, without jumping off the path enough to sour. the art, too, is nice; scatted through-out more as ambiance than as part of the narrative; i quite liked the effect. reminded me of larry macdougal, who i wish got more work. the most interesting of frames, though, is the hans christian andersen story of the steadfast tin soldier which bookends the chapters as well as intrudes into the story. kind of heartwrenchingly, actually-- but maybe you don't know that my fetish for tin soldiers is one of the big secret kind of things i've got wrapped up inside the dark wood of my heart. i sure do. so having that played out, & well? swoon.
Tags: books, comics, golden, mignola

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