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Review: Golem (Graphic Novel)

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Golem was an amazing graphic novel that I feel is exceptionally underrated. I believe that it’s difficult for people to get into because the story is highly intelligent and focuses on complex examinations of a fascist government that is run on highly capitalistic practices. Being a science-fiction, politically idealistic thriller, it exhibits a setting where an ostensibly perfect society has been formed, but at a very heavy price: the cost of almost all natural resources. The culture in this novel is completely reliant upon technology, from driving to healing, and even the simplest act of cooking.

The underlying plot of Golem focuses on a single piece of technology that is capable of recycling any matter, whether it’s organic or inorganic, into whatever you need it to be. For example, if you have a rotten banana it can be transformed into a microchip. Empty soda can laying around? Boom! It’s now a bar of gold. This amazing invention could be a deathly threat to a government that thrives on a consumer’s instant gratification of being wholly and mindlessly dependent upon their quixotic practices. Golem shows us a seemingly authentic take on Utopian (i.e.: a perfect society that cannot exist) literature, with an urban, cyberpunk twist.

Most of the ideals that are explored are done so vividly through its unique and diverse art style. This isn’t simply a story that you can pick up and sit down to read. You have to allow yourself to be completely swept away by all the underlying details encapsulated in the brimful panels that consist of neon joie de vivre that is equal parts European, as well as Japanese in nature. An array of techniques are utilized in the creation of this graphic novel, including the mixing of line art with brushwork, Japanese influences with the anime-style character designs, as well as a foundation of classic Western comic book drawings. The entire piece as a whole can be equated to a modern day Renaissance masterpiece.

Each page in Golem consists of a highly-detailed backdrop to the panels. Every singly element is imperative. If you think you can just skim the art to get the gist of what’s going on, you’ll have to think again. You literally can’t miss anything, or you might miss everything. While reading, try thinking of the piece as a film that you are watching where the scenes are shot to evoke emotions. Any great comic artist will be aware of this already, however, in Golem it reaches a whole new level of artistic storytelling. Whether you are looking at dark images that are randomly placed as dreams, or flashbacks to a young boy’s witnessing of something intense (usually an event or situation that he can’t fully process in the moment), or intensely vivid pop art of a section of downtown, each panel and page explodes with the right amount of emotion.

In conclusion, I believe that Golem has a strong idea that is systematically studious and beautifully rendered. The pacing can feel a bit off as the intricate artistic elements of the graphic novel can come off jarring, especially to someone who is unfamiliar with the medium. Because of that, I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, by far. Yet, if you find yourself with a craving for some damn good visual aesthetics, and a decent tale wrapped around utopian fun, then give ‘er a check out. I plan on re-reading this very soon in the near future; four microchips outta five.

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