Review - Joe Golem: Occult Detective #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"The gloom and the low-slung clouds, the bleaching gray felt as if the sky itself were grieving."

Investigating crimes is a tough gig for anyone. Investigating crimes that mix in elements of the supernatural are even tougher for most everyone, save Joe Golem in Joe Golem: Occult Detective #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, illustrated by Patric Reynolds, colored by Dave Stewart and lettered by Clem Robins.

Forty years after disaster left Lower Manhattan submerged in thirty feet of water, children have begun disappearing below the surface. In this new series, Joe Golem hunts the terrifying creature that has been pulling children into the depths of the canals.

Mignola has a penchant for delving into the macabre and making it intriguing, joining Golden in doing just that in Joe Golem: Occult Detective #1. Joe Golem is a very interesting detective in terms of his caseload, with Mignola and Golden emphasizing his general ease with dealing with the supernatural as a contrast to the fear felt by the children. There's a recklessness to Joe Golem that borders on foolishness, but it does provide him a steeled persona that evokes images of hard-boiled detectives which is exactly what Mignola and Golden are going for. The concept of Manhattan being flooded sets up as an interesting backdrop for the events to unfold, as it presents a chilling environment for Joe Golem to feel at home in.

Reynolds infuses the book with a level of gloom that fits within the scope of the story itself. Joe Golem bears a resemblance to a monster at times, thanks to framing shots by Reynolds that effectively rely on shading to mask his expressions. Other characters sport a mystery to them as well via Reynolds' use of vague detail in depicting them. There's also an emphasis on bold, heavy lines throughout as the characters cut against despair-laden backgrounds. Stewart's color choice of greens and blues add a dull finish and excel at underscoring the dreariness of a water-filled Manhattan.

The combination of Joe Golem in a flooded Manhattan investigating the disappearance of children amidst the canals is chock full of intrigue. Those disappearances have a supernatural element to them that doesn't stop Joe from doing his job though. The script by Mignola and Golden is evenly paced and offers plenty to grab onto as far as a first issue goes. Golden's artwork is sufficiently haunting, providing a pessimistic look at a city struggling to stay afloat--literally and figuratively. Joe Golem: Occult Detective #1 is a pretty dour book with a dour lead who prides himself on his attention to caring.

Joe Golem: Occult Detective #1 is in stores November 4.