With a new arc come new disappointments. But first!
This is the best female character in the series. Get to know her, but don’t get attached.
Also, remember my warning when I was doing Crossed about comic books and depicting terrible stuff for shock value? That has not stopped being a thing comics do.
Baltimore is still looking for that vampire and finds this pair who say they’ve seen the guy. They lead him to a town full of horrors. The girl, being so delicate, is crying at the first minor sight of some murdered horses…
..and screaming at the further horrors they find. Finally, she directs him to the tavern as the last place the vampire was seen.
Oh wait it was all an act and she’s even got the distinction of being braver and smarter than the guy is. She has goals. She has agency. Okay, they’re both evil, but, well, you have to take what you can get.
(In case you’re not familiar with comics, evil women are just as doomed as good ones.)
Anyway, Baltimore happily slaughters his way through the vampire “ambush” and heads upstairs to find the obligatory three sexy vampire ladies ready to sex him. With sex. Because they are female. Sex. He throws them out the window for an agonizing death. Then there’s a bunch of demons, who are flat-chested and therefore actually a decent fight. Then he returns to the couple and says that seriously now, he tell him where his vampire enemy is.
Then he sets off, back into man land full of men, and we meet this section’s tagalong.
It’s Writer Guy. As we all know, female writers were invented in the 1970s, following the 1940s invention of women doing menial work that men were too important for. Prior to that, female jobs were wife, mom, and bar wench. As this takes place at the end of the first world war, only men can do writing, especially journalistic sort of writing. I mean, we wouldn’t want this to be too historically inaccurate, would we?
A woman appears!
It’s okay because she’s a vampire, which is why it’s also okay to spend another page shooting her then torturing her for info. Luckily, Writer Guy already knows where Baltimore’s vampire is and so we can move on to stabbing a cross between her breasts. Women tend to get the more drawn out deaths.
But there’s hope, of a sort! Writer guy informs us that there’s a whole convent of nuns up the hill who, last anyone heard, had the plague reach them. And this has yet to go porno, so they will probably not be sexy nuns. Let’s go see the nuns!
Oh right if it’s not sexy nuns it’s rape pregnancy body horror being undertaken by a guy.
Next he finds an insane vampire nun who’s been gleefully torturing herself with the pain of a cross, so he pulls out even more disfiguring holy water to torture her into telling him what he wants.
Then we get the pegleg wallcrawl I mentioned.
So much more realistic than a female writer!
There is precisely one way comics is progressive, and that is their certainty that disabilities never stop someone from being a hero. In fact, disabilities never keep anyone from doing exactly the same thing as an able-bodied person, and almost always you can do it better.
Here’s the vampire guy getting “tortured” by which I mean getting cut for a purpose in a way not actually designed around causing pain. I show you this to compare to what comes next.
Meanwhile, remember the best female character in the series, the only one with all that agency?
The Inquisition guy chasing Baltimore because plot says so is heading through, and she decides they should see if he’ll pay for what they know.
Baltimore feels vengeance is less important than Pregnant Victim, so he heads for her. I should point out at this point that she’s had all the personality of a lump of clay and for all we know chose this, because apparently showing her struggling in any way would’ve violated the strict rules of portraying victims.
We continue on and discover that the vampire nuns still worship Jesus and are doing all this in the hopes God will take away the vampire curse, meaning they’re totally different than any vampire we’ve seen so far. There is no time spent on the question of if demon baby satanic ritual is meant to be the sort of evil thing good people under the duress of vampirism might think was acceptable, or if this is a sign of them being inherently evil. (At another point definitely human people have crucified their pastor and are praying to a demon snake for protection from the plague.) We’ll later see another one of them who hasn’t even taken part in the evil ritual and is praying at the cross trying to build up the courage to commit suicide by God. None of this is explained. None of this is even particularly gotten into, it’s just there for a wham and then they move on.
This was inevitable as soon as Baltimore expressed concern for her.
Pregnant Victim dies to bring us Female Homuculus Witch, who never manages to put on clothes. We’ll also learn that she’s also partly controlled by the vampire whose blood was used to resurrect her, because she was a powerful woman so she needed two guys in charge of her. This guy then gives us a long and detailed account of his backstory. Among other things, he says his troops ran across a vampire too but killed it rather than let him torture it for information. So he finds a female monster.
And he tortures her instead. You may be noticing a certain running theme here.
At least Blood Homunculous tells him he’s a stupid fuckup who couldn’t even give her a decent body.
Meanwhile, more torture!
The guy who gets to keep all his clothes on and stay bound relatively dignified in the chair. Kind of like guy vampire vs female demon. This is still the closest to equal torture time we’ll be seeing. Upon seeing she survived, he coos happily over her and delivers her proudly back to her family, and I’ll admit, that part is pretty disturbing in entirely intended ways.
There’s some surprise Nazi references, then Baltimore points out that wizard guy still hasn’t fixed the vampirism, so he probably can’t, and the vampire nuns say that sounds legit and eat the guy. Then they beg the two men to come watch them commit mass suicide, possibly because as 1900s Catholics, they’re pretty sure nothing they do counts unless they get a guy to verify it.
So as you can see, the comic did improve as a comic from the first one. It’s a much better told story with more things going on and more suspense, and it’s also added a lot of naked, tortured and dead women.