Review – Joe Golem Occult Detective #1 (Of 5) (Dark Horse Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden
Artist: Patric Reynolds
Release Date: 4th November, 2015

Steampunk? Neo Noir? Monsters? Magic? Witches? Golems? Orphans? Check. It’s all here. Welcome to the world of Joe Golem: Occult Detective, the first of a planned 5 issue mini-series and the latest collaboration between the legendary Mike Mignola and NY times bestselling author Christopher Golden. This is a prequel series to their novel Joe Golem and the Drowning City, which is a wonderful slice of pulp entertainment set in an alternate history 1975, where Lower Manhattan has become a water city following a disastrous earthquake 50 years previous.

Occult Detective is set in 1965, prior to the events in Drowning City. Here, we see Joe Golem, clad in fedora and coat, investigating a missing children’s case after they vanished without a trace. Furthermore, he’s also been having vivid nightmares that may or not be connected to his past, which he has no prior knowledge of before meeting his mentor Simon Church – an immortal who keeps himself alive through magic and advanced science. There are many questions to be answered; centuries worth even.

I don’t want to give away too many details, as I feel any more would spoil the entire thing for you. But if you’re a fan of horror or even detective stories, you’re going to get a kick out of this. Those familiar with Mignola or Golden will know how much they adore their ancient folklore, and how it can be adapted to the worlds they create. Occult Detective sees them deconstruct their wide array of influences and piece them back together in ways you’d never expect them to fit.

Patric Reynolds’ (Alien) artwork is splendid and creates a dreary world steeped in Victorian architecture, film noir sensibilities, medieval horror and steampunk. These elements shouldn’t blend so naturally together, but he makes it work in a way that feels natural. The gloomy panels create a sense of foreboding terror at all times, and the feeling that all the horrors which lurk in the dark could appear at any moment. With artwork this magnificent, you couldn’t blame it from overshadowing the writing, but Mignola and Golden’s script is equally impressive in its own right. The first issue has come out swinging, firing on all cylinders, making a strong case for itself as a best of the year candidate and laying the foundations on which classics are built.

Do I recommend Joe Golem: Occult Detective? Absolutely. Without a shadow of a doubt. Yes.

Rating: 5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Kieran Fisher
Kieran Tweets from @HairEverywhere_.

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