Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem

Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem

In Jewish lore, there is the legend of the golem, a being composed of earth and given life with ritual prayer. It is a protector that might be brought forth for the darkest days. And, surely World War II must be counted among those days.

Dark Horse Comics’ Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem imagines a scenario where a poor Jewish village, whose fighting-age men have gone to war, has mercy on a downed British pilot, even knowing that his presence will endanger them all.

A young boy learns about war and sacrifice in this graphic novel. Dave Wachter sketches the past in shades of earth and ash and night, while writers Steve Niles and Matt Santoro conjure in a few, well-chosen words the desperate loneliness of a boy and the sad, strong wisdom of his grandfather.

Although the writers leave out any explicit religious references—which is a bit odd given the actual nature of the golem—the overall effect is still uplifting even in its somberness as it tells of the coming of evil, the strong love of family, and an unusual friendship. If you enjoy Breath of Bones, you may like reading David Wisnieski’s Golem, which retells the centuries-old legend of the Golem of Prague in picture book form.

Other excellent graphic novels that take on World War II include Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale and Sheila Keenan’s Dogs of War.