writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
artist: Tomm Coker
almost a shame that The Monolith needs the once-reliable
profile boost of a Batman guest-appearance. This tale of
a Jewish Golem set free to achieve justice in the streets
of modern-day New York has already had a steady stream of
action, intrigue, and a few mysteries we should look forward
to solving. Unfortunately, like a lot of new books without
bats, spiders or supers these days, it may not have yet
gotten a steady stream of readers.
And so at least
one subplot had to be temporarily put on hold to bring in
have to give in to the guest appearance, they might as well
do it right, and so far, Palmiotti and Gray do. It's easy
to jump in with this issue, absolutely crucial to bringing
in new readers. (If you haven't been reading Monolith,
you may want to pick up the back issues, but it's not a
(for me), Palmiotti and Gray utilize Bruce Wayne, a character
underused in his own books, no matter how many story arcs
in Gotham carry the message that Batman should focus on
the man beneath the mask. The writers here remember that
being a bajillionaire affords an opportunity to do social
good without having to beat up any costumed lunatics.
Since this is
a comic book, of course, the opportunity for Wayne to don
cape and cowl will arise soon enough. And Palmiotti and
Gray have made their macguffin a fairly important one: somebody
has been going around New York City blowing up Arab-American
and Muslim-owned buildings.
allegories for real-world situations here, using imaginary
anagrammed countries. The crimes in this comic book could
happen, and thankfully have not, because we don't really
have a Batman to put a stop to them. Or a golem.
As they have
done continuously and subtly in every issue, the writers
are putting the one thing popular culture doesn't really
want to talk about seriously front and center: the religious
divide. (The titular character comes from Jewish tradition,
but it's likely that a Buddhist had a hand in his formation,
and Catholicism has been thrown into the mix. Now Islam
plays a crucial role.) It has all been done for entertainment,
but with this arc it looks like it could grow into something
serious. You can come for the Bat, but you'll get a little
thought-provocation with him.
If that isn't
enough, then go for the characterization. The main cast
of the book has already developed personality and charm,
from the uncomfortable heir of the golem, Alice Cohen to
her co-workers. These are the everyday people in the DC
Universe, for whom a glimpse of Green Lantern is humdrum
because they've got more important things to worry about,
like just getting through the day. Even by focusing on Bruce
Wayne first, Palmiotti and Gray underscore their focus on
the people on the streets, not the heads in the clouds.
As for the golem
himself, possibly named Peter, he could easily be dismissed
as another Lenny clone, but first Phil Winslade and now
Tomm Coker have given him a dimension of empathy. If he
once was a human soul, the Monolith has no knowledge of
it. But he still struggles towards it, wishing to be something
more than he was created to be.
has been knocked around the DC Universe before, in Primal
Force and Ragman. But this take bothers to make
us care; in a tougher marketplace, however, it may disappear
just as quickly as those others.
That would be a shame. Bring on Batman. Bring on Superman.
Do whatever it takes in order to get people to read a well-written,
well-drawn book that actually has something on its mind.