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Book Review < Back

The Golem's Mighty Swing

Credits: Written and Illustrated by James Sturm
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly


Okay, bear with me on this one.

There's this incredibly crappy TV show that I'm hopelessly addicted to called Profiler. At one point, our heroine has to track down a killer on an Indian reservation and ends up hanging out with the tribe's Chief of Chiefs, the wise man, "Uncle Joe." Uncle Joe sits her down at the kitchen table and teaches her simple truths about life. He guides her on a vision quest (well, first he drugs her without her knowledge or consent, which doesn't seem to bother anyone in the FBI, oddly, but that's completely beside my already beside the point) whereby she sees through the eyes of a hawk, solves the crime and saves Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe is like, THE GUY. He's got that simple elegance thing down cold.

And now we get to my point: THE GOLEM'S MIGHTY SWING is Uncle Joe. It's quiet, elegant and wise. It's got that parable thing down cold.

It's about a team of Jewish baseball players in the 1920's who travel the country like baseball barnstormers, using their Judaism as their uniform and effectively (given the times) playing the bad guys. Professional Visitors. Permanently "other." When times get tough, they up the artifice and sign on with a promoter (a snake-oil peddler straight out of Pete's Dragon) who convinces them to dress their clean-up batter up as a golem (a soulless Frankenstein of Jewish folklore), distancing them further from the crowds, their faith and The Game.

The book is simple without being simplistic and stands up to repeat readings. In fact, I'd say it begs repeat readings - you're going to miss a lot the first time through. The art supports the period well and I was particularly impressed with Sturm's handling of the games themselves. Baseball's a quiet sport with a slow pace and high tension; Sturm translates that into a series of tight shots - a scowl from behind the mitt, a signal, a determined stare - before the burst of an action panel. It's very much like spending the afternoon lost at the ballpark. With your wise old Uncle Joe.

-- Kelly Sue DeConnick

Kelly Sue DeConnick relocated from Brooklyn, New York to Kansas City, MO, where she lives with her husband and artbomb.net colleague, Matt Fraction. Kelly Sue writes the English adaptations of several manga titles published by Tokyopop and Viz. She can be found on the web at kellysue.com.


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