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Joe Golem and the Drowning City: An Illustrated Novel

(Joe Golem #0)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  951 ratings  ·  173 reviews
In 1925, earthquakes and a rising sea level left Lower Manhattan submerged under more than thirty feet of water, so that its residents began to call it the Drowning City. Those unwilling to abandon their homes created a new life on streets turned to canals and in buildings whose first three stories were underwater. Fifty years have passed since then, and the Drowning City ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Joe Golem and the Drowning City is a lovely sort of homage to HP Lovecraft and the Jewish golem folklore tradition. One wonders how they can exist together harmoniously in the same work, but Mignola and Golden do exactly that.

New York City is a very different place from the one we know and love in this book. Some sort of ecological disaster turned half of the city into what is essentially a Venetian-like, water-logged environment. Downtown flooded, and those who lived there are cut off from the
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a surprisingly good comics adaptation; I enjoyed it as much as Baltimore. It's a nice Lovecraftian story, heavily influenced by the horror pulps. The story draws on Jewish mythology, obviously, but is more of a Frankenstein's monster redemption story. The setting is fascinating, a noir-ish alternate Earth where half of New York was permanently flooded in the 1920s, with a very well drawn and fascinating cast of characters. The illustrations are a little disappointing, being small and sim ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
I think I have ADD. Whenever I felt like I was getting into the story, my mind would veer off. I spent a lot of time trying to imagine the world the story takes place in, but I just couldn't do it. It's 1975, fifty years after lower Manhattan has been hit by earthquakes and flooding, but apparently people have stuck around. There is a mention of a plague, but nothing more as to say what it was or did. Maybe I missed it? So it's 1975, but you would never know it because I guess things were left p ...more
Eric Guignard
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
REVIEWED: Joe Golem and the Drowning City: An Illustrated Novel
WRITTEN BY: Christopher Golden and illustrated by Mike Mignola
PUBLISHED: March, 2012

Great, fun book. A wild, imaginative adventure in an alternative sinking New York, amongst a cast of strange specters, magic rites, and steampunk. Imagine the grittiest visions of Batman's Gotham City being submerged and taken over by H.P. Lovecraft - that's a visual to the world that Christopher Golden has created. The book was rich in story that twi
Jessica at Book Sake
As this book was listed as an “illustrated novel”, I was expecting more illustrations. The fact that Mike Mignola (Hellboy) was the illustrator is what really drew me to this book. Unfortunately the illustrations were few and far between, the majority of them didn’t take up but 1/8 of the page, and they were all in black and white. I haven’t read a book by Christopher Golden before, but he is a good storyteller. The story flowed logically from beginning to end, never leaving you to wonder what h ...more
Orrin Grey
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mignola
I read this right after World Horror, but I have let myself get way behind on updating my Goodreads! I loved this (I mean, of course I did) but not quite as much as Baltimore. I think my favorite part was probably the Sherlock Holmes-alike detective. ...more
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Mignola is obsessed with the transformative power of fate and destiny - so many of his stories are a race against time to stop the tearing of the time fabric or thwarting the tentacles in the sky. This one is basically that story retold. Also there is the indestructible monster hero of the title, the clockwork man full of delicate metal organs and steam blood, the evil sorcerer and his slimy gas-men henchmen. All familiar Mignola/Golden material.

What sets this apart, I think, is the utter useles
Jul 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
It makes me so sad how awful this book is. It's rotten. I love Mike Mignola so much (SO MUCH!) but this was total garbage. The prose was so insanely stilted, and it seemed like they just threw words together. Yikes. It bums me out so hard that this book was such a tremendous disappointment.
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, 2015
Holy hell this is a slog. It's not terribly long but it goes on FOREVER.

The story is boring; the artwork is boring. The only thing that's not boring is the premise, but that doesn't matter given that it's ruined by the way the story is told and the artwork that feels wholly half-assed.
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of pulp adventures or Lovecraftian horrors
Shelves: fantasy, pulp
Got this for Xmas, on the recommendation of our local comic slinger. He knows about my weird obsession with previous Mignola-Golden team up Baltimore: or The Steadfast Tin Soldier & The Vampire and he told us that Joe Golem was better.

Let's get one thing out of the way first: it's not.

It's not bad! Don't think that. It's a fun, interesting story with a great pulpy sci-fi fantasy setting but I can't help feeling that the story would have been better served as a comic. Nothing about the prose elev
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This definitly was NOT what I was expecting. Maybe I'm really naive but when I thought of An Illustrated Novel I assumed a certain level of innocence. Maybe I should have read the back about how this came from the creator of Hellboy. AKA not innocent. The good news is that definitely didn't hurt the quality of the book. The story of the old magician being kidnapped is fun, and his apprentice Molly won my heart as she tries to rescue the man that was like her surrogate father. Joe Golem was fine, ...more
Pamela Huxtable
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, dystopian

Molly is an orphan who has managed to survive in the lawless, cutthroat Drowning City - lower Manhattan of an alternate reality. Note: after superstorm Sandy, this alternate reality seems almost prescient. Molly works for the magician Felix, who is mysteriously kidnapped. While trying to find and rescue Felix, Molly meets a detective, Mr. Church , and his partner Joe.

The plot is exciting, and action packed, and the characters, while stereotypes, are well done and not overly cliched. Joe is of
Stewart Tame
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lovely stuff! Mike Mignola has a knack for pulp-inspired dark fantasy with Lovecraftian and steampunk overtones. The Drowning City is New York, or at least Brooklyn. The city started sinking in the 30's, if I'm recalling the book correctly; not in the real world, obviously. This is alternate history. Molly is a young girl living in a half-sunken building, along with Felix, an elderly clairvoyant. Mysterious beings kidnap him and chase her through the city until she is rescued by Joe, who seems h ...more
Britt Wisenbaker
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I love this book! It is like a whole alternate "Mignola-verse" to the one which has been unfolding for years in the Hellboy comics. For whatever reason, Baltimore (which I did like) did not feel as rich with esoteric detail as this book. A half drowned NYC? A partially mechanical detective of the supernatural who has lived well over a century? A man who is a reborn stone golem, who converts back to stone after his human form is killed? Strange men in gas masks who are not quite men nor quite a
Nov 29, 2012 rated it liked it
This is an extremely unusual novel, with one of the main characters a golem who comes to real life, and then is transferred back to his original golem state. A golem, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a "fact" from the Jewish Kabbalah, the mystical side of this religion, this way of life.

A golem is constructed of clay, by a rabbi. But he has no meaning other than a statue until the rabbi transcribes the name of God on the golem's forehead. He can now walk, move, and be used as as instrument
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2012
This was a little gem of a book. It takes a little bit to get going, and I was wondering where it was all heading, but the ending is well worth waiting for. It's kind of a mix of Cthulhu and steampunk, with a little Sherlock Holmes thrown in. A lot of times a pastiche like this can come across as contrived, cheesy, or just plain boring. Or it starts off strong and fizzles out once the originality of the concept wears off. But I was pleasantly surprised. I guess it helped that I read the ending i ...more
May 30, 2012 added it
Good read! If you've ever read Hellboy then you will recognize alot of elements in the story since it was wriiten by Mike Mignola. I like the concept of outer things not part of this reality, since I enjoy reading HP Lovecraft the story is very influenced by his writing. I enjoyed how the characters interacted with each other and shared histories are explained throughtout. It does have some sad parts and leaves upon a possible sequel. I'm looking forward to it if they do!
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lots of Lovecraftian themes at play here, and stuff that you would expect from Mignola and Golden working together on a project: old men with secrets and terrible burdens, crazy people who seek apotheosis, young people filled with moxie, monsters with too many limbs, blue-collar palookas with magic powers, abominations, and sadness, sadness, sadness. Heroism, to be sure, but also ruin and death and tragedy. Worth the read, and beautiful to boot.
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it

This book works best in the history of the characters and the atmosphere of the different scenes. It is kind of lacking and slow when you get to the big action. A great fun read all together, though.
Aug 26, 2011 marked it as to-read
So excited for this book.
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Easy read but totally enjoyable. Our library has it as an adult sci-fi but I would consider it more Teen fiction.
May 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
nope. next time draw the damn book, mignola. this outsourcing thing just doesn't work.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-fiction
A real nice read. I like Mignola's work in comic books, and I would read lots more of the mixed medium ones like this.

Minus a star (maybe) for being a bit thin.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
The pictures were distracting as opposed to enriching the story and it felt like there was something missing from the entire tale.
Dustin Blottenberger
I want to give this book 4 stars. I really do. The concept is so fascinating: New York city fell victim to terrible earthquakes in the 1920s, which resulted in the "drowning" of Lower Manhattan and some of the outlying boroughs, as the water level rose and reclaimed the lowest 30 feet of the city. Now, circa 1970s, Lower Manhattan exists half-underwater, and the poorer residents, scavengers, gang members, and steadfast hangers-on eke out an existence in the shadow of Upper Manhattan, where wealt ...more
Arden Powell
Joe Golem and the Drowning City is a Lovecraftian-steampunk-noir adventure with one of the bleaker endings I've read lately, but not entirely hopeless. It was the bleakness that ran all the way through and culminated in (view spoiler) that sold me on the book; it would never have worked with a happy ending, and frankly I'd have been disappointed if it tried.

The atmosphere and the imagery sticks with you, even if it was light on the wor
Horror DNA
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: james-ferguson
2012 may be the year that the Mayans predicted the world will end, but what if an epic catastrophe occurred a hundred years prior? What if this caused half of New York City to get sucked underwater, leaving the rich uptown area and the poor downtown? That's the location of the latest work of prose from Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden entitled Joe Golem and the Drowning City. In case you hadn't figured it out, the city referenced in the title is the new name of downtown NYC.

You can read Jame
Dave Irwin
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Definitely see shades of Hellboy within the titular character and while I do not want to give away any spoilers, the ending was beautifully dark. A dark and twisted lovecraftian fantasy/horror story set in a drowned Manhattan about a girl who grew up faster than she should. Definitely recommend.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have such a weakness for Lovecraftian lore. This story is an adventure about a golem and a girl, but also a treatise on meaning; death; and large, interdimensional, tentacled monsters. It is also sparsely illustrated.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful steampunk adventure. It was exciting from beginning to end. I hope to read more of the series in the future.
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Mike Mignola was born September 16, 1960 in Berkeley, California and grew up in nearby Oakland. His fascination with ghosts and monsters began at an early age (he doesn't remember why) and reading Dracula at age 13 introduced him to Victorian literature and folklore from which he has never recovered.

In 1982, hoping to find a way to draw monsters for a living, he moved to New York City and began wo

Other books in the series

Joe Golem (5 books)
  • Joe Golem: Occult Detective, Vol. 1: The Rat Catcher and the Sunken Dead
  • Joe Golem: Occult Detective, Vol. 2: The Outer Dark
  • Joe Golem: Occult Detective, Vol. 3: The Drowning City
  • Joe Golem: Occult Detective, Vol. 4: The Conjurors

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