“I do not… Need pictures… I know evil” is one of the few lines muttered by the golem known as, “The Monolith.” This fresh take on a legend from Jewish tradition, gets new life in Image Comics trade paperback, “The Monolith.” Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, readers are thrust into a modern day New York City, rife with pimps, prostitutes, pushers and all sorts of riff raff. This setting of urban corruption is played off against the corruption present in New York during the 1930’s, they heyday of bootlegging. The historical flashbacks explain the origins of the golem, and how it became imprisoned until being unleashed on the city once again.
WRITTEN BY: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
ART BY: Phil Winslade
RELEASE: July 25th
As the two story-lines of the paperback evolve, in both historic and present day NYC, the authors reframe the classic dilemma that faces those who control the golem: it is a creature that sees the world in terms of good and evil. There is no human factor influencing its decisions as it was created with the words of the law. In this way, the golem is particularly effective as a defender of the downtrodden immigrants of the ghettos of the 1930s. But as the gangs are wiped out, individuals, who through circumstance find themselves breaking the law, also become victims of the golem. The characters present in the 1930s timeline find themselves faced with this situation, as they must take responsibility for what they have created and try to control their unstoppable creation. As events in the present day come to a head, the reader and protagonist are aware of this dilemma, as the golem is once again unleashed onto the city.
I enjoyed the use of historic events and the legend of the golem in “The Monolith”. I thought it added dimension to what otherwise would have been pretty standard fare in terms of bad guys getting what they deserve. But the character development of the protagonist, Alice, was also a key part of the story. The scenes of her heroin withdrawal , whilst trying to dodge a very unsavory pimp, made for some great suspense as well as fast paced reading. Of course when the Monolith comes into play there are some great action scenes. The gangsters definitely get what is coming to them in a very satisfying way (read dismemberment via giant clay fists). Indeed the artwork by Phil Winslade is great as he really pays attention to detail and has some awesome full page spreads of the Monolith wreaking havoc.
The end of the book again brings the question of morality to the forefront of the plot, as Alice takes responsibility for the creature’s actions. The reader discovers that the creature may not be entirely soulless and is in fact in love with Alice. This wraps up the plots from both timelines, as there are no lingering bad guys who need their just deserts for beating up women. The only things that remain are Alice and the golem, whom she has taken responsibility for. If there is a continuation of the series I would definitely read it to see how the authors play on this situation, as the monolith, the arbiter of Alice’s justice, may turn out to be more than she can handle – a situation I would love to see evolve under the penmanship of Palmiotti and Gray. Regardless of a follow up, this story stands on its own. I feel that anyone would really enjoy it as the plot is extremely fast paced, the monolith extremely bad ass, and the plot has enough intellectual gusto to keep your brain buzzing in between bouts of skull crushing.
Reviewed by – TheSandman