I was excited to read Oni Press’ Brik by Adam Glass and Michael Benson and illustrated by Harwinder Singh. I love the Golem myth, and putting it in a present-day setting to me seemed chalk full of potential. The location is Yonkers, NYC, a neighborhood that once thrived as a community, but a bad group of people have moved in and are trying to kick out the local businesses. It’s become a dangerous neighborhood. One such business is run by an elderly Jewish man who lives nearby with his daughter and grandson. The grandson, Drew, is our young high school-aged hero who is bullied, but also is friends with a gal his age named Chase who he has an obvious crush on. If it wasn’t for the local gang, life would be pretty normal. In response to the dangers of the neighborhood, Drew’s grandfather tells him about how he fought against the Nazis with the help of a Golem. Drew is taken by the story, but his grandfather warns that a Golem can be too powerful, and so they had to shut it down.
For those that don’t know, a Golem is a giant made of clay and animated by a sort of spell, usually cast by a Rabbi, to protect the Jewish people or whoever created it. Unfortunately, things for Drew become even more unstable when his grandfather is murdered by the gang in an attempt to chase their family out of their storefront deli. Tattooed on his grandfather’s back are the directions for how to make the Golem. Thus begins Drew’s story.
I really want to love this book, but I find elements of it problematic. I’m usually not one to dislike something because the main character is unlikable, but Drew is kind of a jerk. The problem is that Glass and Benson don’t really address this. Yes, Drew has reasons to do what he’s doing, but he never really feels remorse when things go wrong. He makes a move on Chase without really any sort of invitation and doesn’t seem to understand that he just made things awkward. Instead, he in no way listens to anyone that might be older than he is; he feels kind of selfish as a character. Again, all these things would normally be okay with me. I don’t need a goodie-two-shoes hero, but those element have to be part of the character’s development or it has to be addressed that he’s just going to keep on being that way because he doesn’t care. If it’s not addressed, we end up not really connecting with the hero, because we don’t understand them and why they are a jerk. Maybe Glass and Benson didn’t realize that Drew would come off this way. Or maybe it’s just me!
Aside from this, it’s not a bad take on a modern-day superhero story. Drew and Emet, the Golem, protect the city and generally do what’s best for those around them. It’s reminiscent of Goonies-era entertainment. It feels like it’s for young adults, but it is written in such a way that it doesn’t treat them like toddlers. The kids are foul mouthed to a point. The action is kind of gritty.
Singh’s art is also generally good. He loses me with facial reactions sometimes, leaving me confused as to what a character is feeling in specific instances, but he has a nice visual aesthetic that complements the YA feel of the book.
All in all, it’s a solid comic that hopefully will become stronger as the creators continue to find their footing.