In Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem, the traditional World War II epic is infused with mythology for a wholly new experience.
Instead of immediately blazing into their tale about a vengeful golem, writers Steve Niles and Matt Santoro trail a bolder path of emotional character work that will surely result in a powerful payoff as their new series develops. Set amidst the backdrop of Germany’s merciless advance across the war-torn lands of Europe is Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem, a fresh take on the traditional World War II story that looks to be evolving into something much more unique.
Breath of Bones shows readers the emotional cost of war as seen through the eyes of a young Jewish boy, Noah, who has a tragic first-hand understanding of the toll the second World War is taking on the families of Europe. As the the impending German invasion looms over Noah’s village, his grandfather begins teaching him the values and wisdom required to grow into an honorable adult, while eventually imparting Noah with what could very well be the savior of their village and people.
As the cover teases, Breath of Bones is sure to incorporate an important mythical element as Noah finally enters the battlefield to protect his home. It’s safe to say though that the humanity Niles and Santoro have built into the first issue of their series is the most interesting aspect of the title.
The strong emotional focus of Breath of Bones is made possible by the great black-and-white pencils from Dave Wachter. Wachter’s pencils in the opening war sequence capture the dirt, blood, and violence of the battle quite clearly, while he later utilizes his talents to perfectly contrast the lighter tone of Noah’s youth. Wachter’s most interesting work, however, comes in the last half of the book, especially in the final pages where he experiments with light to emphasize the passing down of the golem from generation to generation.
Niles, Santoro, and Wachter have created a wholly unique World War II story that focuses on the pains of war, the bonds of family, and the power of religion. What begins as an emotional character piece will evolve into a title full of action, power, and mythology, as the golem finally exacts his revenge on the German forces.
Steve Niles and Matt Santoro (W), Dave Wachter (A) • Dark Horse, $3.99.