Bat Signal

Issue 632 – “The Golem of Gotham, Part Two”

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Hello everyone, and welcome back for yet another installment of Bat Signal, my never-ending mission to read every single issue of Detective Comics ever published, in random order, and with basically no context. And folks, I have an absolutely insane issue to share with you all this week. To the point where I don’t even know what to say about it up top. It’s the second half of a two-part story, which always makes for a strange experience,, what with my stupid limitations of this project, but there’s also the absolutely batshit premise of this issue, which I hesitate to even bring up before we dive into it. So, let’s cut the crap and get straight into the insanity.

Because this issue begins with Batman doing battle with a golem, the creature from Jewish legend that’s made of clay and anger, in the middle of an Indian restaurant. And, Batman’s not doing very well! We see Batman getting his ass handed to him by the golem, all while we get narration from the man who created the golem, a Holocaust survivor named Saul. But, while we’re left reeling about this realization, we cut back to the apartment of Saul, where the old man is getting harassed by a young white supremacist named Steve. And, it turns out that Steve and his racist buddies are why Saul decided to build a Golem in the first place. Because apparently they’ve been stirring up some race crimes in the city, largely targeting Gotham’s Hindu community, all of which frightened Saul enough that he used an old book of spells to bring a golem to life in order to protect the neighborhood from these racist pieces of shit. And, not surprisingly, Steve sucks.

 

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And, while all of this is going on, Batman’s still getting beaten up in the Indian restaurant. We’re also introduced to one of the most irritating elements of this issue, which is the fact that all of Batman’s narration is done in cursive, which is really terrible to read. Batman continues to fight with the golem, which he just seems to think is some mud monster, possibly one of the man Clayfaces he fights. But, when the golem manages to grab a hold of Batman and bring him close to its face, the Dark Knight is able to read the word “emeth” written on the golem’s head, which is what gives it life. Batman’s not quite sure what the word means, or what this thing is, all he knows is that he’s about to be strangled to death by the mysterious creature. Until he’s suddenly not. Because, mysteriously, the golem suddenly loses interest in Batman, and shuffles off into the night, leaving Batman puzzled and injured.

Batman gets himself up to a rooftop, where he promptly passes out for a bit, while we cut back to Steve the racist. He’s walking around the streets outside Saul’s apartment, getting upset at the amount of non-white people around him. Which means he has to put in a call to his supervisor white supremacist, Frank, telling the man about Saul and the golem. Frank doesn’t seem to trust Steve’s story, but agrees to round up some racists and go help shake down Saul. They all meet up at Saul’s apartment, ready to figure out what’s going on, while assuming that Steve is just insane, and that this golem is just a guy in a costume. So, they break into Saul’s apartment, while the golem is out raising hell, and begin accosting the old man. And, being the worst of humanity, they decide they’re going to kidnap Saul and force him to spray swastikas in his own home before they leave. All of which is enough to cause the golem to stop what it’s doing and begin marching back to defend its creator.

 

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Fucking Nazis.

Anyway, apparently in the first issue Batman learned about Saul, and has decided to head back to his apartment to try and figure out what’s going on with the golem. Because, after his little nap Batman has remember his Jewish mythology, and realized what’s going on. But, when he gets to the apartment he finds it ransacked, and the swastikas on the walls. But, he also notices that they’re incorrectly done, actually in the Asian style, which he thinks is a clue that they were taking him to the Hindu temple that the racists burned last issue. So, Batman races to the temple, and sure enough finds the racists holding Saul inside.

And, before Batman gets there, we learn all about Saul and this golem. Because apparently in the Holocaust Saul was picked up by some Nazis, and sold out his friend Jacob, sending the man to the camps. Saul has been wracked with guilt ever since, and ended up creating this golem in Jacob’s image in order to protect the disenfranchised of Gotham in their time of need. And, as Saul begins reliving the sins of his past, the white supremacists are suddenly attacked by the appearance of the golem. It begins attacking them, killing everyone except Steve. And, just as he’s about to be killed too, Batman arrives, and manages to lasso the little racist, pulling him to freedom. The Caped Crusader then begins to attack the golem, attempting to wipe the “e” from the word on its forehead, which would kill it. But, Saul informs him that only he, his creator, would kill it. And, he refuses. Until Batman straight up threatens to torture the old man unless he does so. Which causes Saul to panic and destroy his creation. Batman then brings the old man out of the temple so he can be brought to the hospital, leaving Steve the racist dangling from the ceiling.

 

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So, that’s a real issue of Detective Comics. I’m not surprised that I’d never heard of this story, because I’m not some sort of Batman scholar, but it’s kind of mindblowing that there’s a story this insane out there. I’m still struggling to believe that there’s a story where Batman fights a golem, a representation of Jewish vengeance, which was created in order to fight a bunch of Gotham City white supremacists. This issue is insane. And, kind of an unpleasant read. Batman’s really out of character, straight up threatening to hurt an old Holocaust survivor if he doesn’t kill his golem. Plus, the issue really doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the white supremacists, which I guess is a good thing, you want to show them for the evil cowards they are. And, we gets some surprisingly accurate insight into those pricks when Steve the racist starts telling Saul why he hangs out in this gang of racists while the golem is killing his friends, telling Saul that he tells himself that it’s because his “culture is under attack,” but in actuality it’s because he’s bored and hurting people less fortunate than himself is just fun. Which, I feel like is actually what most of those bastards would say if they had to be truthful. It’s just weird, I wouldn’t have anticipated working through these angry feelings after reading a Batman comic. But hey, it’s always nice to see a bunch of white supremacists getting the shit beaten out of them.

 

“The Golem of Gotham, Part Two” was written by Peter Milligan, penciled by Jim Aparo, inked by Mike DeCarlo, lettered by John Costanza, colored by Adrienne Roy, and edited by Dennis O’Neil and Kelley Puckett, 1991.

 

 

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