Fans of Hellboy, B.P.R.D. Secret Origins, and FUBAR should definitely straighten up and pay attention! The latest addition to the horror-and-mythology-meet-WW2 family – and arguably the most beautifully rendered of the lot – is Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem from Dark Horse Comics.
Set in Poland just before the German invasion, the story unfolds around a Jewish boy named Noah who watches all of the men in his village “” including his own father “” march off to join the Allied forces in an attempt to hold back the enemy. Noah stays behind with his grandparents and has only the regular radio broadcasts to keep him informed of the battles that are drawing closer every day to the peaceful countryside he calls home.
After the long wait for his father’s return to the village with no word of his condition, Noah and his grandfather brace themselves for news of his death. This moment of emotional bonding between the boy and the old man quickly takes a turn when an Allied fighter plane roars overhead and crashes just outside the boundaries of their village.
Noah and his grandfather find themselves at odds with one another when the boy insists on helping the injured pilot, but the grandfather wants to destroy all of the evidence of the crash (and the pilot) because he fears that it will quickly draw the attention of a search and rescue operation to the village with the enemy close behind them.
The series of events that follows prompts the grandfather to prepare the boy for the worst “” by entrusting to Noah the monster given to him by his own grandfather decades earlier.
Steve Niles (best known for 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre) has crafted a cleverly-paced narrative that is most definitely NOT a dumbed-down myth placed awkwardly in a historical setting. Niles has clearly done his homework and has stitched together a tale with both historical accuracy and a satisfying dose of (potentially cataclysmic) folk magic.
As if the Comic Books Gods have smiled down upon us, the gorgeous artwork of Dave Watcher (2012 Russ Manning Award Nominee) is paired with the script honed by Niles to make this a truly jaw-dropping launch. Even if historical horror isn’t your usual thing, it’s worth picking up Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem for the opportunity to study Watcher’s remarkable talent of capturing both action and emotion using bold imagery with no visual clutter.