Breath of Bones (2014)

Golem Vs. Nazis

Cover image to Breath of Bones

In a small German village during World War II, an Allied fighter pilot crashes and becomes the charge of young Noah and his grandfather, Jacob. The pilot is injured but alive, and him staying put is his best chance of being found by his compatriots. Unfortunately, it’s also his best chance of being found by the Nazis. The remaining townsfolk are women, children, and old men—everyone else is off fighting the war—but Jacob declares that if the Nazis come, they will be ready for them. They may not have soldiers, but they have something else.

They have a golem.

Golem in the Shadows from Breath of Bones

Steve Niles may be best known for more graphic forms of horror, such as 30 Days of Night and The Nail, but he is just as at home in the more low-key setting of Breath of Bones. Don’t come in expecting a Golem Vs. Zombies action fest. This showdown happens eventually, but it takes a while to get there. His script has sensitivity and heart, but it’s backed with excellent pacing and a down-to-Earth feeling. That’s saying a lot, considering the subject matter.

Niles’s story (with assistance by Matt Santoro) is certainly strong, but it couldn’t be conveyed so perfectly without the artwork of Dave Wachter. His black-and-white renderings are absolutely astonishing, with rich shadows and plenty of character. There are countless panels and splash pages that are worthy of framing. I can’t heap enough praise upon it.

Family panels from Breath of Bones

If I were pressed to come up with some valid criticism, it would be that it could have been longer. All of the plot elements that were introduced were suitably taken care of, but there were many more that could have been introduced if the page count were longer. Ultimately, this is a greedy criticism. I loved this story so much, I simply wanted more of it.

I’ve always been fascinated with the folklore of the golem—a man created from mud and brought to life through mystic means; associations can be found in material as diverse as Frankenstein and Frosty the Snowman—so this story was cut from just the right cloth for me. I’ve always wanted a real life version of the golem graphic novel from Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and although this isn’t quite that, it’s damn sure close enough for me.

Read. This. Book.

Golem Vs. Nazis from Breath of Bones

 

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