Joe Golem: Occult Detective—The Outer Dark #1 ComicWow! Review

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Two years after killing a monster and saving the Drowning City from the undead, occult detective Joe Golem is after a man who is attacking innocent citizens under orders from the voices in his head. But Joe has demons of his own, too…

In “The Sunken Dead,” a previous Joe Golem story, there was a story about two monks. That story continues in “The Outer Dark,” as well as Joe’s new storyline in which he’s chasing after this man who keeps attacking people. The monks’ story helps tie things together and make the pacing of the story slow down a little bit, adding to the suspenseful and mysterious tone of the series.

Joe’s character is a really interesting one. Even though he has a lot on his plate being a freaking occult detective (this concept alone is an awesome one), he also has a lot going on in his personal life. The guy keeps having nightmares that seem to be pieces of one big story. This calls his mental state into question, and he becomes somewhat of an “unreliable narrator” (protagonist, in this case, since we don’t get narration straight from him). I’m curious as to how the two stories connect, if at all.

The language used in this issue is sophisticated but simple enough that it’s easily understandable. The only thing I would have liked to see is a brief introduction of Joe Golem again. Since it’s a new series, it would be nice to have a refresher for readers who didn’t get a chance to check out the first miniseries.

Patric Reynolds’ artwork is beautiful. Dave Stewart’s colors play a big part in that, too. The portion of the book that takes place in 1454 looks distinctively different than that set in the 1600s. The line work is clean but has a gritty noir look to it, too. There are some heavy shadows that contribute to the tone of the series, and the colors are generally dulled down quite a bit. Bodo, the guy who is attacking innocents, is illustrated with a lot of attention to detail. In the panels where he actually goes a little mad, we can see so many minute details in his face. His grin is huge, his eyes resemble the cosmos, and it looks straight up unsettling. The characters show a lot of emotion, and it all looks really realistic, with appropriate frown lines and wrinkles.

This is a great issue that continues the journeys of an insanely interesting character. However, if you haven’t read the first series, you might be a little bit confused at the beginning. Otherwise, the issue presents a really engrossing story that is sure to keep you interested.

Written by: Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden

Illustrated by: Patric Reynolds