Author Christopher Golden
Illustrator Mike Mignola
Things You Might Like
- Short, fun read
- Creepiness of Lovecraft; wardrobe of Sherlock Holmes; overall weirdness of Hellboy
- Mignola’s influence
- A new disaster to hit Manhattan
Things You Might Not Like
- That creeping sensation that Mignola might have had more to do with this than just drawing
- A bit too tell-y at times
Joe Golem and the DrowningCityis a book about cultists, monsters, and mysterious dudes. Good times, yo.
4 out of 5 Mechanical Hearts
There are many times that I find myself fantasizing about Nashville’s destruction. Most of the time, it’s whenever I hear about a new group of fundamentalists who, filled with disdain about their own inability to [redacted] their own [redacted] and [redacted], threaten to burn down a mosque.
A couple years ago, I almost got my wish when Nashville was hit with a massive flood. Alas, the city did not perish, and I find myself here, cursing traffic on Sunday mornings when people spew forth from football stadium-sized churches to hit up buffets.
Anyway, on the topic of cities being destroyed, I bring you Joe Golem and The Drowning City, by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. You may know Mike Mignola as the creator of Hellboy, and the owner of an incredibly distinctive art style. I had not heard of Christopher Golden before this, but, hey, whaddya know.
The book is a prose book, and is not a graphic novel. It is, however, an illustrated novel. Illustrated in the same way that old Victorian adventure novels would have illustrations. (Or, as Josh and Jeff made the point, the same way that Harry Potter is illustrated.) So, yes, when you’re on the bus and reading, and some sub-mental inchworm asks if that book you’re reading has pictures, you can say, ‘Yes, it does.’
In the book’s universe, Manhattan is half-drowned. Uptown remains what we know as Manhattan, with skyscrapers and all the wealth involved, but Downtown – and many of the boroughs – is mostly covered in water. The Drowned City, they call it. Living in the Drowned City is one Felix Orlov, a man who has some seriously disturbing recurring nightmares, and his assistant, Molly McHugh.
Orlov, a magician and medium, has a dark past that comes to light one day as he is captured by men in rebreathers and chemical suits. The gas-men, as Molly McHugh calls them, chase his assistant through the Drowned City until she runs into Joe, a hulk of a man who handedly dispatches a large gas-man.
From there, the novel takes us to a mysterious, Mignola-fied version of Sherlock Holmes. And from there, the novel starts to get very, very fun.
In tone, it’s almost as if Holmes, Hellboy, and the Cthulhu mythos got together and had a 272-page baby. It’s got the feel of Hellboy, the Victorian charm of a good Sherlock Holmes story, and the wriggly beastliness of a Lovecraft story.
Golden’s writing is pretty simple. Nothing Shakespearean, and at times he gets a bit too tell-y for my tastes, but it’s obvious that the man knows how to write the story that needs to be written, which is really all you should ask of an author.
Mignola’s art is sparse. Considering he gets top billing on the book jacket, this is perplexing. I mean, this is a prose book, and you don’t want to fill it up with pictures enough that it becomes a graphic novel. I get that. But when Mignola’s drawings appear, they’re… I don’t know, not quite jarring, but more of an ‘Oh, I forgot this was a part of it,’ thing.
Now, never having read any of Golden’s other books, I can’t say what his overall genre/style is. However, I have the sneaking suspicion (probably wrong) that Mignola had slightly more to do with this book than what seems to be concept art for body parts and faces.
And so, mes amies, that brings us to the end of our time together, when I tell you that the book accomplishes what it sets out to do: be a fun adventure story about a [redacted for the sake of spoilers] who falls in love with a samurai and then takes over Ethiopia.
Most of that is a lie.
Buy, Rent, or Pirate? Buy this book from Amazon now. [NOTE: Bullet Reviews does not condone piracy. If you pirate media, you’ll be [redacted] with a [redacted].]
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