[Comic Book Review] JOE GOLEM: OCCULT DETECTIVE – THE CONJURORS #1 from Dark Horse Comics

PopCultHQ received an advance review copy of JOE GOLEM: OCCULT DETECTIVE – THE CONJURORS #1 from Dark Horse Comics. Available May 15th, the debut issue features writing from Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden, illustrations from Peter Bergting, colors by Michelle Madsen, and letters from Clem Robins.

Here’s PopCultHQ’s Spoiler-Free Review of…

JOE GOLEM: OCCULT DETECTIVE – THE CONJURORS #1

Writers: Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden
Artist: Peter Bergting
Colorist: Michelle Madsen
Letterer: Clem Robins
Cover Artist: David Palumbo

Publication Date: May 15, 2019
Format: FC, 32 pages; Miniseries
Price: $3.99

Joe Golem is dead.

Or is he? Simon Church is fading fast in the city above and Molly is held captive by Dr. Cocteau’s gas-men below, but something stirs in the tunnels. How much of the golem is still in the man, or the man in the golem? And can either be enough to stop Dr. Cocteau once he has the artifact he seeks?

* The second part of the comics adaptation of Mignola and Golden’s prose novel!


PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
JOE GOLEM: OCCULT DETECTIVE – THE CONJURORS #1

Molly fights for her life.  Simon Church is haunted by the ghosts of his past decisions. The Golem awakes, but he’s here to help… right?

Writing: 

Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s prose writing translates very smoothly to sequential storytelling. Is this simply a bonus from having a true modern master adapt the work to the medium for which he’s better suited? Or something more that speaks truly to the extent of the Hellboy creator’s grasp on writing and the comic book medium?

Whatever the answer, it’s the reader who wins on both counts as we get some rich storytelling delivered in simple literary brushstrokes. It paints the beginnings of something promising to tell a great mystery, while also delivering layered exploration into each of the principal characters’ psyches and arcs.

The pacing and framework, as we switch from the Golem’s new surroundings to Molly’s predicament, to flashbacks, to Church’s musings is well-controlled without feeling like it can overwhelm the reader at any time. It’s elegant in its delivery, as is the entire issue. Coupled with the art it feels almost poetic. As much as a supernatural pulp noir detective story can.

Art: 

The artist of Dark Horse’s Baltimore books and Joe Golem Occult Detective: The Drowning City continues to bring to life Mignola and Golden’s writing with dark, moody distinction. Peter Bergting’s simple style masks some intricate, complex character design and well-researched settings and backgrounds to lend authenticity to this off-kilter world the characters inhabit. Each character bears an air of solemness behind their expressions and body language. Bergting also has an artful way of having the characters perfectly interact with, and convey, the dialogue that has been written for them. So much so that if you were to struggle with the words, the images would still tell the tale in beautiful fashion. Juggling action, chills, exposition, and character with fine form, Bergting’s artwork is instrumental in how well this book reads.

Colors: 

A staple of Dark Horse’s Buffy titles, Michelle Madsen is as key to this book’s artistic appeal as Bergting. Having worked previously on Joe Golem Occult Detective: The Drowning City with the penciller, Madsen’s palette is more than familiar with the story world. The shifting control of dark shadows and dreary, bleak darkness add to this overwhelming sense of something lost. The beautiful use of lighting still carries with it the right mix of fear, danger, and curiosity that the story calls for. The colorist should always be the final word in mood and tone and here Madsen has provided that in excellent fashion.

Letters: 

Classic comic book lettering from Vertigo staple Clem Robins. The man whose work has graced 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man, Hellblazer, and many more brings more of that hard-boiled, mysterious nous to his basic whites and black approach to the effects and his mixture of withering speech bubbles and loud exclamations.

An unsettling, yet completely intriguing beginning. Touching on themes of sacrifice, judgment, and finding a way to forge forward. You might have a better time of this if you’ve read previous Joe Golem stories, but even as an introduction, this atmospheric pulp mystery still reads exceedingly well.

4 out of 5 Stars

PopCultHQ Rating - 4 Stars
PopCultHQ Rating – 4 Stars

LAST STOP ON THE RED LINE #1 can be pre-ordered now and
available at your LCS and online retailers on Wednesday, May 15th!

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Writer – Mike Mignola

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Writer – Christopher Golden

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Artist – Peter Bergting

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Colorist – Michelle Madsen

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Letterer – Clem Robins

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Publisher – Dark Horse Comics

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