Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Breath of Bones: A Tale of The Golem


 I continue to be perplexed by the success of writer Steve Niles, and his latest, BREATH OF BONES: A TALE OF THE GOLEM, has done nothing to lay my confusion to rest.

 In a perfect world, Steve Niles would have come up with the (Admittedly brilliant) concept for 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, handed it off to someone more talented, and become a millionaire, never to be heard from again.

 But ours is not a perfect world.

  To say that Niles blew it big time with 30 DAYS would be a massive understatement. It was an awful, amateurish mess, and nothing he's done since then has shown one iota of improvement.

BREATH OF BONES: A TALE OF THE GOLEM continues Niles' tepid regurgitation of various Horror legends, this time The Golem, a creature of Jewish folklore formed of earth and clay. The story, such as it is, finds a small village under attack by Nazi troops looking for a crashed British pilot who has taken refuge with the townspeople. The Nazis come, the villagers run, one of them creates a Golem, there's a brief spurt of action, and then the book ends. Niles (Sharing story credit with Matt Santoro) does exactly what you would expect from a Golem story, no more, no less. Well, probably less. BREATH OF BONES is so rushed and lazy that he can't even be bothered to delve into the history and mythology of The Golem, let alone the "rules" that govern it's behavior. It exists simply because Niles wishes it to, and his omission of the fascinating folklore surrounding the creature creates a giant void in his narrative. "Nazis are coming? Feh, I can bring this dirt to life! Problem solved!" The sheer lack of anything original or engaging has become Niles' trademark, and the laziness of his scripts, this one in particular, borders on offensive. The Golem is a fascinating, often overlooked, Horror figure, and deserves better. The one bright spot here is the beautiful, detailed artwork supplied by Dave Wachter. His work is reminiscent of the legendary John Severin, and he manages to imbue even the "talking heads" scenes with an urgency and vitality that is far more than this slim tale deserves.

 BREATH OF BONES: A TALE OF THE GOLEM collects the three-issue Dark Horse mini-series of the same name, complete with all covers and a small sketch gallery by Dave Wachter.

 Dark Horse provided a review copy.