Review – Joe Golem: Occult Detective – The Outer Dark #1 (Dark Horse)

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s):  Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden
Artwork: Patric Reynolds, Dave Stewart (colours)
Release Date: 31st May 2017

We’re huge fans of Joe Golem here at the Big Comic Page, so when we discovered there was a brand new story kicking off this week, we obviously had to check it out.

The first chapter of “The Outer Dark” sees our titular Occult Detective struggling with some demons of his own in the form of terrifying recurring nightmares.  What’s more, Joe is convinced that these nightmares have some added significance, almost like his subconscious is trying to tell him something.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), he isn’t given too much time to dwell on things before his latest case – a multiple homicide committed by a supernaturally strong assailant – drags him headlong into another mystery.

Mignola and Golden continue to collaborate seamlessly in terms of the dialogue and the pacing, drip-feeding us just enough of the story to keep us hooked while gradually drawing back the veil on their overall mystery.  It’s an approach the pair have adopted several times in the past, and with a heady blend of pulp detective drama and supernatural horror, this latest story already looks to be a worthy addition to the Joe Golem mythos.

Patric Reynolds is an artist who never seems to get anywhere near the level of acclaim he deserves, and he does a typically impressive job here of underscoring the darkly disturbing notes of the story.  His heavily inked, heavily shadowed characters appear almost photo-realistic at times, adding an extra level of impact to the events as they unfold.  Equally adept at impassioned dialogue exchanges as he is with frenetic horror scenes, Reynolds has a style that might not necessary work for every story, but unquestionably works for this one.

My only real criticism with this first issue is that, for the time being at least, it feels a little disconnected.  While I’m sure the link will gradually reveal itself, the opening pages featuring Joe dealing with his nightmares and the latter stages with hm investigating the murder feel entirely separate from one another, almost like the chapters of two entirely different stories.  I have faith in Mignola and Golden though, and have no doubt that this will be rectified, but for the time being, it’s difficult to ignore.

Ultimately, while it’s a slow-paced opening issue for sure, it’s obvious that Mignola, Golden and Reynolds haven’t lost a step since their previous, critically acclaimed Joe Golem collaborations, and that this is shaping up to be yet another gripping foray into the world of everyone’s favourite Occult Detective.

Rating: 4/5.

ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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