Review - Golgotha

Golgotha is presumably the name of the city where Jesus was crucified. That city clearly has meaning to many throughout the world, both religious and macabre. H.P. Lovecraft was one more preoccupied with the latter and it's the involvement of his remains at a burial site that sets the tone for Golgotha from 215 Ink.

The title is written by Andrew Harrison and illustrated by Karl Slominski.

Aleister Bloom is an artist on trial. His punishment is jail time, despite his pleading otherwise, relying on being detoxed as a reason for not being sentenced. He finds a way of escaping his sentence, determined to make it to New York. Everything seems to be moving as planned, until he gets sidetracked in seeking to solve the mystery of a robbery at Lovecraft’s final resting place, Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.

Tales replete with drug use sometimes have difficulty finding a reason for being so to speak. Fortunately, Harrison doesn't let Golgotha fall into the same trap. Yes, Aleister is a habitual drug user trying to be clean, but the world he inhabits is littered with drug addicts of all walks of life, including junkies, a Brazilian Vampire rock band, and a group of worshipers of Cthulhu. Considering they're all addicts at their cores, Harrison manages to make them feel like different parts of a troubled whole.

Lovecraft is also a topic that never seems to get old and Harrison succeeds here as well. The concept the Lovecraft's skull has magical powers is actually quite interesting and dovetails nicely with the idea of drug induced hallucinations and breaks from reality. Aleister relies on his love of Lovecraft so much that he's willing to let the investigation sidetrack his true mission of getting to New York, symbolizing the power that drugs often hold over addicts. The characters face some crazy situations and mixing in Lovecraft just makes them that much more insane.

Slominski's art can best be summed up as frenetic. He scribbles harsh, ink-laden lines on most every panel, effectively conveying the tension that comes along with drug use. The book is predominantly black and white, but there are a few pages that take on something of a sepia tone that keeps up with the pace of the storytelling as flashbacks. Many of the characters even have the feel of caricatures, as if they're embellished representations of how drug addicts view others who cross their paths.

Golgotha sits somewhere between Requiem for a Dream and Scott Pilgrim. It's a book that blends the drug infused benders of the former and the somewhat more lighthearted and indie feel of the latter. The book both pays tribute to Lovecraft and almost mocks the reverence paid to the cult figure. It's not a book for everyone, as those who don't really like tellings filled with excessive drug use and language will likely be turned off. Still though, it's about as indie as they come and is a pretty solid foray into addiction and Lovecraft, two things that often go hand in hand.

Golgotha will be available for preorder in the April previews.