Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Marvel Horror - The Golem!

Ernie Chan and Company
One of Marvel's most overlooked monster comics is The Golem which appeared briefly in three issues of Strange Tales. A creature of Jewish mythology the Golem is a creature of clay come to life through the magic of  mystic Jewish symbols carved into its forehead and a scroll which calls it to life.

This particular Golem is first mentioned in a story in Incredible Hulk #134 but never makes an appearance directly in that story.

Herb Trimpe
In a story by Len Wein and drawn very skillfully by John Buscema with Jim Mooney inks, the Golem here is found in the desert of the Middle East by an archeologist and rabbi named Professor Abraham Adamson who is forced to revive the Golem when he himself is fatally shot by mercenaries led by the charismatic but deadly Colonel Omar, and his niece Rebecca and nephew Jason and colleague Wayne Logan are under threat.

John Romita
This trio make for America but come under attack by Kaballa a demon who activates elemental demons to do his will. The Golem seems inert until danger strikes and then rises to fend off the threat. The second issue was written by Mike Friedrich and drawn by Tony DeZuniga.

Frank Brunner
The same team stays around for the third and final issue but are joined by inker Steve Austin. This issue sees the trio and the Golem reach the United States, specifically San Pedro Florida where they seek the help of academics Professor Saudia Yamal and Professor Yeats. But the Kaballa attacks again and again falls short of his goal to get the Golem under his control.

And that's a wrap as the three issues are all that ever appear. The character is consigned not the wastes of the desert but the void which is cancellation.  

Gil Kane
Until Marvel Two-In-One #11 when The Thing, another rocky hero heads to Florida and gets involved with the Kaballa and his demons. In a story by Bill Mantlo and Bob Brown, the demon threat is defeated but the Golem himself becomes inert in the center of a small Florida town, a statuary reminder of the bravery of one man named Abraham.

On one level the story of the Golem seems a limited one, but the dour speechless creature is a visually arresting figure and it's a shame it wasn't given more time to find its way. The shifting talent on the short-lived series didn't help matters but it did guarantee a broader sense of what the character might become. 

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  1. I remember quite liking Wein’s Brother Voodoo feature which preceded the Golem, but yes, it seemed like the Golem never quite got much of a chance in Strange Tales either. I recall too issue #175 – which was hit with the Dreaded Deadline Doom and ended up with a cover featuring an old Atlas weirdie reprint. This sort of broke the rhythm for the Golem feature as well.

    1. Brother Voodoo is coming to the Dojo soon. The Dreaded Deadline Doom might well have been the most dangerous monster unleashed at the Bullpen.

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  2. The best Golem comic that never happened was described as isolated dramatic images created by the young refugee artist in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. Josef Kavalier actually has a close encounter with the body of the legendary Golem, which is instrumental in his being smuggled out of Prague to come to the U.S.. eventually becoming an artist in the Golden Age of American comics.

    The Golem was a monumental icon in Jewish folklore who was also in a memorable silent film. The Golem is mentioned in the Talmud and the Bible and has cosiderable mythic stature, not much of which was touched upon in the Marvel comic, where he came off a a lower form of all the old Kirby monster comics. I think if they had attempted something more grandiose. along the lines of the Silver Surfer or Warlock. they might have had a more powerful series.

    1. No doubt, the Golem is a mighty image. I agree about the Chabon novel and I just watched the silent movie again after reading the comics above. It holds up okay, but is mostly some striking imagery with some dubious storytelling.

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