‘Joe Golem: Occult Detective Volume 2 - The Outer Dark’ - Advance Hardcover Review

I reviewed the original two issues of Joe Golem: Occult Detective - The Outer Dark when they first were released and was pleasantly surprised by how startled the horror elements made me and how uncomfortable I felt. I was left a little lukewarm with some of the other elements, but reading through the issues again as a collection, seeing the arc of this chapter play out to the end, it was like reheating a good dish of pasta and allowing all of those savory flavors to mix and meld, turning it into a great dish. I want seconds!

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
Click here to purchase.

Last modified on Tuesday, 22 May 2018 16:17

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