‘Joe Golem: Occult Detective - The Drowning City #1’ - Advance Comic Book Review

Joe Golem is an occult detective living in 1960s Lower Manhattan which is called The Drowning City because it’s submerged in water. They travel around in boats, like film noir characters trapped in Venice. They move from one building to another by bridges, or in the worst-case scenarios by rickety planks, and in the very worst-case scenario they have a bed of water to fall into if there’s nowhere to cross. It’s a truly inspired locale.

The second story arc of Joe Golem (which can be found in trade paperback) focused around Joe and his past. We find out that he was once an actual Golem who has somehow become human, though his only memories of this are through his dreams. Joe works for a Mr. Church who seems to be on the side of good, though at the cost of sacrificing Joe’s personal life for him. Maybe he knows more than he’s letting on, or maybe he’s just a jerk – either way, he’s incredibly off-putting in the way a well-written character should be. The second series, which I also reviewed, was a horror story that was human and bittersweet and managed to give me chills on more than one occasion.

In the first issue of this third volume, we dip into the waters of the submerged city to find a familiar character hard at work with some very occult-like stuff. He’s tracking down a psychic medium named Felix Orlov who has probably the worst dreams I’ve seen anyone have. I don’t know how you can function after having dreams like that. Meanwhile, Mr. Church sends Joe Golem to check in on Orlov, and we’re off to the races.

Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s love of all-things horror makes Joe Golem an extremely fun read. Combining adventurous detective serials with the occult, it’s a bit like seeing Indiana Jones in a Lovecraftian story.

Like Hellboy, this is a well-rounded series that’s worth investing time and money into. With every issue, the world becomes bigger and richer, and my love of all-things Mignola becomes greater.


Creative Team: Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (writer, creator), Peter Bergting (artist), Michelle Madsen (colors), Dave Palumbo (cover art)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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