Tag Archives: golem article

This week unfolded almost as I anticipated

With TYG’s and my second vaccine shots on Monday and Tuesday respectively, I wanted to make sure there was nothing on my writing to-do list that had to be completed after Monday. That way, if worst came to worst, as I said a couple of weeks back, I could just lie around doing nothing.

Worst actually came to worst Monday night. I woke after a couple of hours, which was normal, but instead of going back to sleep I got hit by a panic attack: what if I couldn’t get back to sleep? How could I make it to the Walgreens some ten miles away (not my preference, but it was the first available when I was making the appointments) if I was too tired to drive? Aaaaaaah! As usual, fear of not getting enough sleep guaranteed I did not get enough sleep. Fortunately, TYG, while feeling rundown Tuesday after her shot, was able to drive me there; I could probably have managed it but I wouldn’t have trusted my judgment had I had to make any decisions.

You can see a shot of myself here on the monitor at the pharmacy. I thought I looked kind of look a weird troll out of a Twin Peaks dream sequence or something, but it doesn’t quite come across in the photo.

My decision to wrap up everything early proved wise. Wednesday I felt much like I did when my seasonal allergies kick in: tired, drained, almost feverish, strongly desirous of rest. Having gotten my golem article in on Monday, I was free to rest, or as free as possible given the need to walk and care for dogs. TYG, fortunately, was about the same level. It was unpleasant, but livable. I spent Wednesday reading and watching TV, and of course napping a lot.

Thursday I felt normal, just tiring very easily. That may also have something to do with Plushie having digestive difficulties that requires taking him out around 1:30 AM. I sat downstairs with him after that — I divined correctly that he might need more trips — and didn’t catch up on sleep. So more TV and napping, though I also batted out a final Leaf article for the month.

And then last night, it happened again. Fortunately Plushie didn’t need it more than once so I got most of a full night of sleep. I turned in a Veterans Network article this morning (and one I’d written on Atomic Veterans came out this week) and then we had a vet checkup for both pups. The rehab treatment has done well by both of them, particularly Trixie; Plushie still has some leg weakness. I suppose that may reflect his advancing age, sigh.

So not much accomplished this week, but that was planned for. Successfully, if I do say so. For the month I got about 55 percent of my goals accomplished, but given how I had to shift my schedule to prepare for this week, I don’t feel bad about that.

#SFWApro.

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On working for free

So the golem article is done and off. Which has me thinking about Harlan Ellison’s advice that you should always work for pay, because this piece was a freebie.

Generally speaking, I’m down with Ellison’s argument: this is a business, someone, somewhere is making money off your work, so you should too. But I make exceptions. One is fiction. If I can’t sell a story to a magazine that pays decently, I’ll sell it to one that pays poorly. If I can’t do that I’ll sell it to the free ones (of course, sometimes even they turn it down). Unlike Ellison, fiction isn’t where I make my money. I’d sooner have my story published and readable somewhere that’s free than go unpublished — though as I mentioned last year, I’m thinking of just self-publishing them instead, even given that won’t be massively lucrative either.

That said, even doing something for free or token payment costs me in time and effort, often in spending on research materials. So I try to keep the amount of time manageable, but that doesn’t always work. I’d figured the golem article would be a light, simple one to work on, but it turned out to be way more effort than I’d anticipated. Had I known that in advance, I might not have jumped in. My McFarland movie books don’t generate much in the way of $/hour revenue either. However writing about stuff like this is a lot of fun, so I’m willing to go for it (admittedly I sometimes regret it when I’m pressed for time and half-wiped out).  Ditto blogging at Atomic Junk Shop (where my latest, on Dc’s Bat Lash, just appeared at the link).

Undead Sexist Cliches was supposed to be a much simpler, snarkier book, but it changed as I started working on it. Footnoting alone was a ton of work. I have no idea if it will generate any sales. But it’s a cause I believe in, so why not?

And at this point in my life, I don’t feel concentrating on fiction would make it a cash cow.

That said, after Alien Visitors is done in the fall, I think I’m going to concentrate on fiction (excluding time spent on Leaf, Veteran Network and other clients who pay). I’ve only got so many years left, I might as well devote them to what’s the most fun, even if it isn’t profitable fun. As I’ve said before, if I think of writing as a demanding, time-consuming hobby, I don’t worry so much about the bottom line.

It would be nice if my fiction were selling so well that “is it a paying market?”and “why am I doing this for free when I could be selling a novel?” were pertinent questions. But it isn’t. So what the hey.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holder. Cover by Nick Cardy.

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The last golem post: books read

This week’s books skew to the literary, which mostly reminds me that’s a genre I usually can’t get into.

For instance I read Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic some years back and found myself unimpressed. I wasn’t any more enthused about THE WORLD THAT WE KNEW in which Hanna, a Jewish mother in WW II Berlin, decides to send her daughter Lea to France for safety. She prevails on Ettie, a kabbalist’s daughter to create Ava, a golem who will bodyguard Lea from potential danger. We then follow Ettie, Lea and Ava through the war as they fall in love, fight against fascism and try to make sense of what it all means.

THE BOOK OF SPLENDOR by Frances Sherwood is a historical novel so the golem plays a smaller role (that worked great for me as I could speed through large chunks of the book). Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II is out to become immortal, calling everyone from the great astronomers to John Dee to his court; when he learns Judah ben Loew has created a golem, he figures the Maharal can also provide him with immortality. Can ben Loew and his golem Yossel save the Prague ghetto from the PO’d emperor? The heart of the story though is the relationship between Yossel and Rochel, an orphan married to an older man.

Gustav Meyrink’s THE GOLEM is another style of literary, a kind of fever dream in which the protagonist becomes/imagines himself as a resident of the ghetto years earlier, dealing with assorted Jews and lowlifes and wondering about the golem, who serves as a kind of Jewish avatar/portent/bogeyman. As this is the kind of surreal strangeness in which none of the events may have happened and the golem never really appears, I think I can skip it for including in my article.

The pick of the week was THE GOLEM’S EYE: The Bartimaeus Trilogy Book II by Jonathan Stroud, which I read some years back. This is set in an alternate timeline where mages — powered by binding demons rather than any innate sorcery of their own — rule mortals in a fashion Voldemort would approve of (though with more of a velvet fist over the iron glove). The protagonists are Nathaniel, a rising young magician in the cutthroat world of the mageocratic British government; Bartimaeus, the cunning, sardonic jinni bound to his service; and Kitty, a young rebel dedicated to overthrowing the government.

In this particular installment, the trio are working on their own goals, all of which are disrupted when a mysterious Something starts making terrorist attacks. Magic doesn’t stop it; the security ministry in Nathaniel works is useless; and the resistance is getting the blame. Everyone investigates and, of course, it turns out to be a golem. But it’s not even the worst threat they’re going to face … As good as I remember from reading the trilogy some 25 years ago.

#SFWApro. Cover by Ernie Chan, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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Almost done for April

As I said last Friday, TYG and I have our second Fauci Ouchies coming up Monday and Tuesday, so I wanted to get the essential April stuff wrapped up. It took longer than expected (no surprise) so I have some wrapping up Monday, but mostly it’s good.

I finished up multiple articles for Veterans Network. Writing about Gulf War Syndrome, Agent Orange and similar topics took quite a bit of research, and then of course, some writing. They were really pleased with the results though. Oh, one of my earlier posts, about surgical empathy in counseling, came out too. Over at Atomic Junkshop you can check out my post on the Bronze Age Blackhawks and on God, gods and theology in the DC and Marvel universes.

I read a lot more golem books and have my golem piece 90 percent done. I think I can finish it on Monday. I’d better, just in case.

It’s been surprisingly cold here this week, with morning temperatures down in the 30s. On the plus side, we don’t have to worry about frozen food thawing out when it’s delivered (I will be so glad when I get back to shopping in stores!). Wisp stayed in several nights, sleeping on the bed with me as usual. When this happens she tends to scoot off pretty quick in the mornings, but I’m okay with that — it’s easier to get stretching and exercising done without her there. Though eventually, if we do get her to be a mostly indoor cat, I’ll have to adapt.

Oh, and I got some Leaf articles done. Not as many as I’d have liked — I don’t think I’m going to generate as much income this month as I wanted. When I try out my new scheduling trick for my May projects, I’ll definitely need to allow myself more time for Leaf. There were a couple of other money-making projects I’d anticipated and that threw my schedule off more than it should have. Plus, of course, prioritizing Veterans Network and golems this week — normally I’d have rolled a lot of that over to next week and concentrated on doing more Leaf stuff.

Wish me luck with our vaccine shots! I’ll hopefully be ready by next Friday to say how it went.

#SFWApro. Art by Michael Gilbert, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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Will the rain of golems never end?

Seriously, the non-stop reading makes me feel like I’m on this Ross Andre/Mike Esposito cover —Or this Neal Adams one.That said, here we go with more kabbalistic goodness.

GOLEM by Scott Barkman, Alex Leung and Mark Louie Vuycanklat starts in Sarajevo when a young kabbalist sees his best friend killed as the Balkan War heats up. Srojan the kabbalist creates a golem for vengeance and justice but as the golem later points out, Srojan’s not skilled: he ends up with a golem that has the power of speech and free will. It’s still committed to Srojan’s goals but it’s approach is more Punisher than Captain America. Can Srojan put the monster he’s unleashed back in the box? This wasn’t bad at all.

JOE GOLEM: The Drowning City and The Conjurors by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden and Peter Bergting wrap up the original arc (I don’t know if there are sequels in the works) which I realized reading is set in the same world as Mignola’s Baltimore graphic novel series. The occultist Cocteau has a plan to contact the cosmic entities in the Outer Dark, making himself into a god; trivial questions like the cost to humanity don’t trouble him. Can Joe, Simon Church and tough street-kid Molly stop him? These two volumes were based on a novel by Mignola and Golden so it’s not surprising they’re the strongest of the series. Very good.

GOLEM IN MY GLOVE BOX: A Monster Haven Novel by R.L. Naquin doesn’t qualify for my golem article (the golems are generic magical animates) and isn’t memorable otherwise. This urban fantasy has an empath protecting Earth’s cryptid population, battling a mind-manipulating Empath of Doom turned serial killer. This was third-rate for the genre, and gets way too cute trying to be different (the monster under the bed is a thing?); the whimsy and the bloodshed don’t mesh well either.

Rereading Helene Wecker’s THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI proved a wise move as I can see how the book stands out from most of the pack. In contrast to the golems yearning for freedom, Chava here is horrified when her master’s death leaves her free and independent, as it’s her nature to take directions from others and to work slavishly at her tasks (what makes for disastrous household work in some comical golem tales here proves a boon when she works tirelessly as a baker or a seamstress). The story of her bonding with a djinn for whom freedom is life itself works well as an opposites-attract romance; the sequel comes out this year but fortunately too late for me to have to incorporate it into my article.

FURRY AND FLO: The Solemn Golem by Thomas Kingsley Troupe is part of a kids’ series about human Flo, whose apartment building has a dimensional gateway in the basement, and her BFF Furry, a werewolf prince hiding from his evil father. In this episode, a golem comes looking for Furry but turns to the side of good when he realizes it’s nicer. Doesn’t make the book — the golem here is just another animated figure — but cute enough.

SILENCE FALLEN: A Mercy Thompson Novel by Patricia Briggs has the series hero — a coyote shapeshifter/ghost whisperer — kidnapped to Prague by a powerful European vampire as part of an elaborate scheme I didn’t really care about. While in Prague Mercy encounters the ghost of the Golem of Prague (which she fits into the series mythology) and despite its obvious eagerness to go Hulk Smash on the city, allies with it against a vampire conspiracy. This didn’t work for me at all, as the seemingly endless discussion of vampire and were politics and culture bored me silly — but in fairness, that’s a matter of taste (I assume for her fans it’s as interesting as a detailed discussion of kryptonite varieties is for me).

FEET OF CLAY: A Discworld Novel by Terry Pratchett has city watch commander Sam Vimes investigating a series of murders where the only clue is streaks of clay left behind; of course it can’t actually involve golems as those clay figures (animated by written instructions placed in their hollow heads) only exist to serve man, right? Pratchett does a good job tackling the slavery aspect of golems, though there’s a lot of other stuff going on in the book, as usual for Pratchett.

#SFWApro. Joe Golem cover by David Palumbo; all rights to images remain with current holders. Hopefully next week will be the last golem post

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My battle plan did not survive first contact with the enemy

As I mentioned at the start of the month, I thought breaking down my schedule into blocks of time and assigning them to different projects (e.g., eight units for Leaf, eight for Veterans Network articles, eight for the golem article). That way, when my schedule takes some kind of unexpected detour, I can make sure I’m still putting enough time on everything.

This week that did not work, though I think it’s less a flaw in the plan than just life. But then again, if the plan can’t cope with what life throws at me, it’s not much use. But really, this situation is exceptional. I have several projects due before the end of the month and I’m getting my second vaccine shot on April 27. If it leaves me feeling like crap I need to have all my essential projects done so I can just lie in misery. TYG is getting her shot around the same time (I really should have listened to her and gotten mine further apart, but when I saw an opening, I panicked and grabbed it) so even if I’m fine, she might be sick — and I know from experience that’s going to kill my productivity too. So the golem article and all my Veteran Network stuff has to be done by April 26.

Plus next week I have an Alexander Technique appointment, our dogs’ trip to the rehab vet and allergy shots for them. That’s going to eat up quite a bit of time.

So this week I wanted to work on veteran articles, Leaf pieces and the golem piece. I did well — the golem article is finally looking good — until yesterday. About 10:30 Wednesday night, Plushie became scared of the invisible monsters he’d spotted somewhere in the bedroom and insisted on climbing on me for safety, then licking my face for about 20 minutes. Finally he calmed down, but by that point I was completely awake. I got up, worked for a couple of hours, got ready to go back to bed … and Wisp meowed to come in and wanted attention for a little while.

I did get to sleep eventually but it didn’t help much. I finished an article on Agent Orange, and did a little work on Undead Sexist Cliches (final proof of Chapter Two. Looks good) — I’m actually quite impressed what I can do when my brain is utterly fried — but I didn’t get the golem article finished as I’d planned.

Last night I took an Ambien to ensure I’d get a decent night’s sleep. The price was waking up late, then Wisp came in, snuggled with me and fell asleep in my lap (it was cold outside).The result was that I never had the private time I need to get my head in the game. Today was not productive. If I didn’t have the deadlines and the possible sick days ahead, I’d have devoted it entirely to reading the remaining golem novels on my list.

I will try my plan again next month, but for the moment the onrushing deadlines render it moot.

Oh, I had Southern Discomfort come back from a publisher with some critical feedback. I’ll discuss what they said when I’ve had time to mull it over.

To end on an upbeat note, here’s Trixie sniffing a flower.#SFWApro.

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I thought I had it all handled, but I didn’t think of the pollen!

Pollen is always a problem in North Carolina in the spring. Behold:This year it’s worse than usual. The dogs have never left pollen stains on the couch covers before. I think that explains why I became so muzzy-headed Wednesday and Thursday; I kept working, but it was mostly reading material for the golem article when I should have been writing for Leaf or Veterans Network. I didn’t do much better today. I wound up taking some time off from work to bake bread this afternoon (a British beer bread).

It didn’t help that doggy care in the morning dragged out more than usual so I started late both Wednesday and Thursday. I got my hours in, ultimately, but I honestly don’t know if my new technique for budgeting time helped or not. I’ve been marking off units of time when I use them, but I haven’t run out of the time assigned to any projects yet (though the golem stuff is coming close). I’ll see how it goes next week.

Still, I did get quite a bit done. I redrafted the golem article to break down stories by themes: golem as Hulk-like destroyer, golem as protector, golem as artificial intelligence (yearning, like the Vision or Data, for humanity), golem stories focusing on relationships. I think it’s more interesting than just the straight chronological approach I was using. And like I said, I did a lot of extra reading, adding more stuff to the article.

I got a couple of Leaf articles done as well, and one Veterans Network piece. There’s quite a lot of work for the latter assigned for April so I hope my muzzy head clears itself up next week. I also need to account for my second vaccine dose at the end of the month: I need to assume the next couple of days will be me feeling like crap and not up for work. Great if I’m wrong, but just in case …

I completed my review of Chapter Six in Undead Sexist Cliches; now I have to go through and actually make the changes.

And now I’m off to cut a slice of the bread.

#SFWApro.

 

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Way more golems than I anticipated!

GOLEM: Jewish Magical and Mystical Traditions in the Making of the Artificial Anthropoid by Moshe Idel is a nonfiction book I read years ago about the kabbalistic view of the golem: how do you make one (there are several versions)? What does the ritual signify? Is a golem truly human — for example, could it make up the minimum number of Jewish men to sit shiva (probably not)? This is extremely dry as Idel isn’t dealing with folklore and the kabbalists have no interest in what a golem might actually do; the legends of golems as protectors or folktales of them as bumbling servants only developed in the 19th century (the 16th century legend of the golem of Prague doesn’t go back any earlier). The kind of reference that makes me glad I have so many books.

THE GOLEM: Mystical Tales from the Ghetto of Prague by Chayim Bloch is an early 20th century book  I read some years back under the impression the tales were authentic traditions rather than 19th century retcons. That said, this is an entertaining collection of faux folktales as Rabbi Judah Ben Loew and his servant “Joseph” outwit Christians seeking to hurt their people while the golem, effective as a protector, keeps bumbling simple household tasks.

THE JOURNALS OF PROFESSOR GUTHRIDGE by Kyt Wright is a novella about a 19th century occult investigator tackling various supernatural threats the main one being whatever crushed the skulls of some Jewish immigrants as if they were paper. And why on Earth is there so much clay around the crime scenes? This is adequate reading that suffers from a few anachronisms (nobody in the 19th century used the phrase “she has feelings for you” — and it’s odd to describe a Jew as having “some interest” in the Torah); a bigger problem is that Guthridge at one point rapes his lover but it’s treated more as a ghastly faux pas than rape. I will give Wright points for an ingenious solution to getting the magic talisman out of the golem’s mouth — just blast it with enough machine gun fire that the paper falls out of the collapsing head.

THE ALCHEMIST’S DOOR by Lisa Goldstein has Elizabethan occultist John Dee fleeing a demon across Europe, ending up in Prague at the court of occult-obsessed Rudolph II. There Dee meets Judah ben Loew, who has just discovered one of the 36 Lame Wufniks (the same mythical figures I used in No Good Deed Goes Unpunished) lives in the Prague ghetto. Rudolph wants to find and kill the man, destabilizing all of creation, in the belief he will be able to build a new reality; can Dee, ben Loew and the golem Yossel hold him at bay? The golem here is both a Hulk-like destroyer (making this Herb Trimpe cover appropriate — contrary to Wikipedia it has no connection to the Golem in Strange Tales above) and a Data-like artificial life-form yearning for humanity. A good historical fantasy.

JOE GOLEM, OCCULT DETECTIVE: The Outer Dark by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden and Patric Reynolds is somewhat stronger than the first volume. Joe investigates fanatics plotting to summon Lovecraftian outsiders to Earth, then battles a woman suffering from a unique form of possession; meanwhile Simon Church decides Joe’s girlfriend Lori is asking too many inconvenient questions … Makes Simon out to be a real shit, manipulating Joe as much as the men in Scent of May Rain.

#SFWApro. Top cover by Ernie Chan.

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A Too Much Research Week, I guess

Reading a lot for my golem article.

Watching alien abduction films and Stephen Spielberg’s tedious miniseries Taken for Alien Visitors.

Extra time spent on research for my Veteran’s Network blog posts this week.

A shit ton of time spent planning and thinking. First, re-evaluating the work ahead for Alien Visitors and figuring out exactly what I’m doing in the months ahead. Second, I have an offer to edit a book, for pay, but they wanted me to give them a quote. That took a lot of number-crunching and guesstimating, but now it’s done, bid submitted. Worst case, they say no — or worst case, they make me a lower offer, I accept it and it turns out it wasn’t enough for the work involved. Hopefully my estimating skills are better than my doubts.

I did finish the redraft of Chapter Four of Undead Sexist Cliches though I still have to re-edit the footnotes as I rearranged the material so much (fortunately Chapter Five is much tighter organized). And I got an Atomic Junk Shop post up marveling that some people are apparently fine with all Superman’s absurdities but balk at the idea he can put a bun in Lois’s oven.

Then there was today. Wisp woke me up early and unlike some mornings she really, really wanted me to play the laser-pointer game with her. I didn’t quite have the time to do that — I’m not so coordinated I can flash the laser light and still do whatever else I’m doing — so she eventually left in a sulk. Then we got a thunderstorm which freaks Plush Dog out (“Sky noise! Loud evil sky noise!”) and he insisted on coming downstairs and cuddling with me (Trixie came too, inevitably). I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I couldn’t cuddle him and do any stretching or exercise, which left me feeling stiff all day. And with no time to myself in the morning, I never really got my head in the game for the day’s work. I wound up doing some extra work on Atomic Junk Shop posts, which I shouldn’t have been — blogging’s never supposed to take time from productive work — but my mind was balking even at more research reading. Finally this afternoon I found presence of mind for planning, but that was all.

Oh well, as I’ve said before, sooner or later my schedule has to go kaput for a day; that’s just how life is. But only for a day — I have too much to do.

On the personal side, I did accomplish something, getting signed up with Duke as one of the Group Four (older, some health issues) vaccine recipients. Though as the governor’s declared that next month it’s open to anyone, that doesn’t make much of a difference — particularly as I haven’t found any appointments yet. TYG is planning to go out of town to find one (there are nearby communities with slots available), but I haven’t given up on locating something here. We’ll see if I’m right.

And one of my self-published books showed on Amazon, though as usual they haven’t made the data about which book or how many sales. That’s so annoying — if they’re paying me, they have to know — but the sale is great news.

#SFWAPro.

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A golem of rags? Ragman, original and rebooted

Ragman is probably best known as a member of Team Arrow on the CW’s Arrow. He’s never been more than a B-lister in comics, but I recently reread his original, oh-so-forgettable 1976 series and the 1991 reboot. This is one of those cases, like Hawk and the Dove, where the remake surpasses the original.

As detailed in Ragman #1, Rory Regan is a Vietnam veteran working with his father in the Rags ‘n Tatters junk/pawn shop in a inner-city slum. Rory’s reporter girlfriend Bette wishes he’d put his brains to work in something more professional, but Rory’s always loved his father’s trade, despite the way other people look down on them. He also knows Rags ‘n Tatters is a lifeline for the community: his father’s always giving people more than their junk is worth, just to keep them afloat financially a while longer (how does a guy with no money himself make this work? No answer).

One evening, dad is drinking with his friends — former acrobat, former prizefighter, former circus strong man — when they discover an old mattress in the junkyard stuffed with a million bucks somebody hid for safekeeping. Dad figures he’s made Rory’s fortune, but then a mobster shows up looking for the money. When Regan Sr. refuses to give it up, the mobster sets a trap using convenient high-tension wires; when Rory comes home from a date, the mobster tells him to give up the money or Daddy dies. Rory can’t help as he has no idea the money exists; the hood springs the trap, Rory tries to rescue his father and the other men, but only winds up almost getting killed along with them. He survives, and apparently gets the strength, acrobatic skill and boxing skill of his father’s three friends transferred. Donning an outfit Dad bought for Rory to wear at a costume party he hunts down the crooks. Then the “Ragman” (the costume doesn’t look particularly ragged, except for the cloak) begins waging war on the predators who victimize his friends and neighbors.

The art — Frank Redondo using breakdowns by Joe Kubert (who did the covers as well) was memorable, the stories by Robert Kanigher not so much. The origin is old-fashioned, the villains are generic gangsters and drug-dealers and the characters are stock. Rory’s noble and suffering, Bette’s constantly nagging and Opal — a black singer with the hots for Ragman — is sexy. The emphasis on Ragman fighting for the down-and-out has given the series some fans, but rereading didn’t change my initial reaction when I bought these on the stands: meh. When it closed after the fifth issue, I didn’t miss it.The reboot, cowritten by Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming with art by Pat Broderick, was far more memorable. It also makes good use of golem lore. The set-up is similar: Rory’s a Vietnam veteran helping out at his dad’s shop, though Bette is now a homeless vagrant — the neighborhood’s even more down and out than before. When a drug ring tries to use Rags ‘n Tatters for their business, Regan Sr. refuses; they kill him, put Rory in the hospital and have his “aunt and uncle” take over the store. There’s nothing Rory can do about it until he sneaks into the store and discovers a strange, patchwork costume (it really does look raggedy) hidden in his father’s closet. When he puts it on, he’s transformed: stronger, faster, more agile, and the costume — it’s self-aware in some fashion — can suck out the souls of criminals like the faux relatives running the store. Rory is now the Ragman, with the power to find out what’s behind Dad’s killing and to help the people in his community (now located in Gotham City).

Then a Rabbi shows up. He reveals Rory’s dad was Jewish — Reganowitz — and that the ragman suit is the product of kabbalistic mysticism. After Rabbi Judah ben Loew created the Golem of Prague, other mystics grew uneasy about using a soulless creature to protect them. Using the same rituals they created the Ragman costume; it’s effectively a rag golem but requires a human wearer to animate. Rory’s dad was the last one to wear it, in Warsaw during the uprising against the Nazis. When the ghetto became consumed by fire — the one thing the rags can’t handle — and it became clear there was no hope of winning, Rory fled. Burdened by guilt, he hid the rags away and never wore them again.

The rabbi begins training Rory because the rags are dangerous. They do indeed drain the souls of his foes (along with adding a piece of their clothes as another patch) and the accumulated evil urges the wearer to turn Punisher rather than protector. Complicating things is that during the years the suit was quiescent, the Rabbi created a new golem as a protector. In the years since, it has gone from a formless figure to human in appearance; it can see its way to gaining a soul and the ability to speak (golems can’t speak because of their soulless state; it’s what distinguishes the creation of a golem from God’s creation of Adam). Now that the suit is back online, the mystical energy that empowers them both is flowing out of the golem and into Ragman. The golem arrives in Gotham City determined to destroy his rival and secure his future.

In the end, it doesn’t work out that way. Bette befriends the silent drifter and at the climax of Rory’s battle with the suit erases the “E” from “EMETH” on the golem’s forehead (from “life” to “death” in effect). With the golem gone, his life force enables Rory to wear the suit, instead the suit wearing him. He goes on to settle things with the criminal mastermind behind everything, and then confronts Batman. In that final issue, Ragman reflects on the many things he’s done to help people in the community, and they, in turn, stand by him. With the neighborhood united, Ragman floats off on the wind to further adventures, starting with Ragman: Cry of the Dead (the golem managed to return for that one too).

It was a great reboot, with stronger characters, a more interesting Ragman and some memorably weird touches, such as the street gang The Mimes (“If you wear clown white in this neighborhood, you must be tough.”). And obviously, it earns a place in my golem article.

#SFWApro. Original series covers by Kubert, reboot covers by Pat Broderick.

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