This chapter of Joe Golem takes place in 1967 in a version of Lower Manhattan that is submerged in water. It’s called The Drowning City . . . and you thought New York City couldn’t get any cooler. They travel around in boats; like film noir characters trapped in Venice, they move from one building to another by rickety planks, and most of the rooms are vacant and dilapidated. It’s an inspired locale to set much of the story in.
There are three elements to this story arc. First, Joe is having dreams of the past, the 15th-century to be exact. A Golem is protecting an ancient religion from witches – it’s pretty awesome. Second, Joe is investigating paranormal mysteries with the local police force. These occult occurrences are the set pieces, and they are definitely inspired. A lot of the reason for my reactions to this is the wonderfully creepy art from Patric Reynolds and the brown and grey colored world from rockstar Dave Stewart. Their images are haunting and memorable. That was an important digression…
Joe works with Simon Church. Mr. Church has supposedly been doing this for a couple hundred years and has enlisted Joe to do the work he can’t anymore, to get his hands dirty. Third, Joe is trying to have a normal life. He’s in love with Lori. They’ve been sneaking around behind Mr. Church’s back which Lori finds to be odd. Lori doesn’t trust Mr. Church nor the tea that he gives Joe to help him sleep. It also causes Joe to forget. The series is packed with story and conflict, but it’s never convoluted. In fact, writers Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden have made it so you can jump right into this story and not have to read the volume before (though I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to, especially for the serial elements to the world - the Occult Detective part). While those serial elements provide the plots that we follow, the emotional through line belongs to Joe and Lori. All of the story elements escalate to a very emotionally charged and extremely satisfying resolution, and, suddenly, I was invested.
Invest yourself. If you love detective noir, high-minded occult horror, crime fiction, or nuanced drama, this book packs a punch on all levels.
Creative Team: Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (writer, creator), Patric Reynolds (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), Clem Robbins (letters), Dave Palumbo (cover art), Katii O’Brien (editor)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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