Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Golem of Venice Beach, Graphic Novel

Venice, CA has a huge homeless problem, even more so than the rest of Los Angeles, which is saying something. Not so surprisingly, it is partially its own fault, since local zoning and regulation has made it impossible to build a single new unit of housing since 2007. That means there are plenty of homeless camps where you might find strange and unsavory types. The Golem definitely counts as strange, but he does not look so glaringly out of place in the home of Muscle Beach. He now goes by the name “Adam” and his personality has evolved, but he is still a product of his Kabbalistic origins in Chanan Beizer’s graphic novel The Golem of Venice Beach, mostly illustrated by Vanessa Cardinali, which goes on-sale today.

Jake is descended from the line of the original Prague rabbi whose blood first animated Adam, so the Golem is sworn to protect him and his last living relative—a Holocaust survivor from the old country (in the 1950s, Venice was home to many survivors, because of their cheap rents). Adam already saved Jake once during childhood, but the moody slacker still carries guilt from the incident.

Adam is keenly aware of man’s inhumanity by now, so he only intends to act exclusively when the Rabbi’s bloodline is in jeopardy. That rather annoys Jake, who wants Adam to save his new girlfriend, who is forced to preside over Santa Muerte ceremonies to protect a brutal Venice drug gang. Frankly, she is one of the graphic novel’s most intriguing characters, because she is part damsel-in-distress and part femme fatale. The exact ration is yet to be determined in part one.

That means there is a part two yet to come. As a result, part one ends without a whole lot of resolution. There is a little, but not much. On the other hand, the mix of visuals styles is distinctive. Particularly notable is the renowned comic artist Bill Sienkiewicz, who contributed the cover and the Prague-set prologue. Cardinali handles most of the contemporary story, in a slightly cartoony style, but evokes the funkiness of Venice.

Beizer’s conception of a world-weary Golem is not radically different from that of Francesco Artibani’s
He Who Fights with Monsters. Yet, the unfulfilled promise of Kabbalism taking on Santa Muerte paganism leaves readers intrigued for what the next installment might hold.

In fact, the Sana Muerte passages are definitely the most macabre elements of
Venice Beach. However, Beizer handles the Judaic themes with knowledge and sensitivity. Recommended for readers intrigued by Golem lore and Santa Muerte, The Golem of Venice Beach is now available at book and comic retailers.