Joe Golem: Occult Detective -- The Conjurers #1
A slow but promising start, Joe Golem: Occult Detective — The Conjurers starts its 5 issue mini-series with the title character, Joe Golem, dead. Things are obviously not going well. Not only is Joe out of commission, but his friend and employer, the Victorian detective Simon Church, is deteriorating at an alarming rate when the semi-magic technology ceases to work. Church is visited by multiple ghosts of acquaintances from his past (Hamlet and Scrooge have nothing on him). Molly is in a submarine and kicks some butt. The whole issue seems to be focused around Dr. Cocteau, whose men are holding Molly captive, most likely behind Church’s rapid aging, and he seems to have big plans for Joe Golem, who is only shown underwater and presumably dead. However, the issue contains snippets of Golem’s past life as a witch-hunting golem and helping a family in the countryside.
Personally, the Joe Golem series hits so many notes for me: the occult, folklore, and pulp detective stories. What makes the series so intriguing is that it was created by Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy. Mignola came up with the character to continue stories he had that were actually intended for Hellboy. Joe Golem’s beginnings began in novel form with Mignola’s long-form prose collaborator Christopher Golden. Golden is the main writer of the novels as well as the comic adaptions, though Mignola oversaw the plot.
The Conjurers already feels focused and tight, though not much happens in #1. The issue feels more like a preview, despite being 32 pages. Five issues may not appear to leave a lot of room for a story line, especially with the first issue introducing what seems like three or four plot lines, but knowing Golden and Mignola are in charge eases those worries. Joe Golem shares a universe with another Mignola and Golden collaboration, Baltimore. Like Joe Golem, Baltimore is originally a novel. Both comic series featuring art by Peter Bergting. Longtime colorist for Mignola’s work, Dave Stewart, handles colors on both series up until The Conjurers, with Michelle Madsen taking over colors. The colors are aesthetically pleasing and vibrant when appropriate, but feel rushed and sloppy at times.
The art will seem familiar to those who have read some of Mignola’s work, like Hellboy and it’s many spinoffs. Though a big Hellboy fan, what I enjoy about the series is that it is not part of the Hellboy universe. Sometimes I feel that the Hellboy spin-offs are overshadowed knowing they are connected to big red, but Joe Golem has room to be a unique and interesting character. My favorite part of the Joe Golem series are the covers. We are always told not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I will always break the rule. David Palumbo’s covers are beautiful. They are the perfect throwback the pulp and horror magazine covers from the 1920’s and 30’s, feeding the nostalgia bug and also promising something new and unique.
Overall, The Conjurers #1 works as an intriguing staging area, like most first issues. Those new to the series may feel lost, especially considering the fact that the first panel depicts Golem dead underwater with even the fishes not giving him a second look. The three plot lines seem intriguing and unique to each other, leaving something for every reader: a mix of horror, the occult, adventure, and mystery.
Though a promising start, Joe Golem: Occult Detective -- The Conjurers #1 may not satisfy casual and new readers of the series. I recommend waiting until #2 drops and picking up #1 with it.
Joe Golem: Occult Detective — The Conjurers #1: Dark Pulpy Fun
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 6/106/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 5/105/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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