Review: Breath Of Bones: A Tale Of The Golem #1
The giant clay monster from Jewish legend goes on a Nazi-killing rampage in order to protect the inhabitants of a small Jewish stronghold and an injured British pilot.
A new three issue miniseries from Dark Horse kicks off today with the release of Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem. The story was created by Steve Niles and Matt Santoro. Niles writes the script with Dave Wachter providing art and Nate Piekos of Blambot handling letters. The solicit makes it sound like a rock-em sock-em alt history story featuring plenty of Nazi-killing action. Does the first issue live up to that billing?
The story opens in 1944 and a group of young men fighting in WWII. Noah, our main character, is narrating the events and talking about the true evil and death that has surrounded him during the war. His thoughts take him back to his father and his grandfather and the lessons they taught him about monsters, about real life monsters. Noah stays back to cover his friends and give them a chance to get to cover. His heroics save their lives, but before we see what happens to him we flash back to his childhood. Noah watches his father leave for another war. His father is going to fight the war that is supposed to end all wars. The only people left in Noah’s village are the elderly, the women, and the children. He lives with his grandparents as he tries to go about life as normally as possible under the circumstances. He doesn’t understand what’s happening and why it’s happening. He’s having a heart-to-heart with his grandfather when a fighter plane comes crashing down in a nearby field. Noah rushes off to see if the pilot is OK. He’s an ally pilot so Noah tries his best to help. His grandfather and a few other people come upon the scene of the crash but are reluctant to help. Noah convinces them otherwise and gets the pilot the help he needs. The Nazis are coming. They probably saw the smoke from the crash, and they’ve been marching town to town lately. The pilot puts them in greater danger. Can they survive the approaching armies? Does Noah’s grandfather the builder have a way to keep them safe?
I asked in the first paragraph if the story lives up to the solicit. The answer is no, no it doesn’t do what it says in the solicit info. That made the story sound like an action-packed alt history story. Steve Niles fails to do that. Instead he does something far, far greater. He writes a truly touching and emotional story set during the World Wars. It’s a mature story. I don’t mean that in terms of violence or language, I mean in terms of characters, emotions, ideas, and themes it gets across. It’s a brilliantly written story featured on historical events with a slight mythological twist. The golem is one of the few monsters completely wrapped in religion. It fits perfectly with the world war settings. Wachter’s art is amazing. It’s all black and white. He really sells the destruction and chaos of the war scenes. He also does some brilliant character work and really plays on the story’s emotion.
Bottom Line: Everything Steve Niles touches is magic. Breath of Bones is a wonderful and emotional story that puts a little twist on events we already know. Niles and company have this scheduled for three issues, and I’m definitely coming along for the ride. 5/5