Written by Cedric G! Bacon
Forgive the tardiness of this conclusion to Mignola’s most recent project on the fault of this reviewer; the intrusion of real life prevented any sort of sitting down to let the thoughts that have long gestated in regards Joe Golem to be prepared properly for the page.
With that out of the way, I felt satisfied with the conclusion of Joe Golem, in the sense that the story saw good triumph over evil, that there were none of the sort of Lovecraftian fake-outs and twist endings that would have left maimed children (of which there are, but in a more haunting, traditionally Gothic fashion are they presented) and a mentally destroyed protagonist (although Joe does begin to question why he is still having flashbacks to a time two centuries older than he is). This issue carries on much of the action seen in the previous installment, with the pulp derring do of the do-gooder going beneath the dark murderous waters recalling to mind the era that Mignola wants to evoke. Jump scenes and pauses create the tension in one moment, which sees the possibility that Joe’s adventures are about to become referred to in the past tense, until he calls upon the powers of Hulkamania, hits the monster with the Big Boot followed by the Atomic Leg Drop and…
Nah, I’m kidding. No Hulk Hogan antics bandying about here. Just some good old fashioned monster butt-kicking.
Another plus is that despite the story’s brevity there was a real sense of progression, with Mignola and crew peeling back just enough layers to let the readers come inside the world they’re weaving–in all honesty, I’d love to read more about this nearly submerged New York, with a real reliance upon gondolas and boats rather than automobiles here–alongside the characters. The dialogue, always one of Mignola’s strong suits, is as snappy as ever (when he handed art chores off to other writers, I believe that Mignola’s writing abilities began soaring, not that he was ever a poor artist mind you) leading a cinematic air that sings to the reader’s imagination in a way that calls to mind possible portrayals down the line of Joe Golem by the likes of say Ben Affleck or Matt Damon or Aaron Eckhart.
But unfortunately on the flip side it is that same brevity that might be a turn off for readers not used to waiting on future mini-series and books to unfold the world of Joe Golem for them (in this case it might be better to introduce new readers to Mignola’s way of working by presenting them with various Mignola penned Hellboy and BPRD tales as a primer on the speed and style flourishes Mignola brings). And as such, questions are left unanswered, about the nature of Joe’s flashbacks regarding stones and witches, about the creature he hunted, or even about his relationship with Simon Church and the strange brew of tea intended to recede Joe’s dreams.
Since publication, Mignola and cohort Christopher Golden have also released “Joe Golem and the Drowning City”, a prose novel featuring many of the same characters and settings, and have also returned Joe to his comic roots in the recent “Joe Golem and the Sunken Dead”. You can guarantee that this reviewer, having been introduced to this weird world Joe inhabits, will be on the look out for both.
Til then dear reader, you can buy the Kindle edition over here!