Fan of Bronze: The Golem

Thinking about the comics that I read in the 70s (my Golden Age), certain characters stand out more that others. Surprisingly one is the Golem from "Strange Tales" #174 (Ju'75). I don't remember how I got that issue but it left an impact on me. He had top talent in his first appearance: Len Wein (writer), John Buscema (artist) and Roy Thomas (editor).


Some background: It's amazing what can lead to other things like gateway drugs. Every Sunday afternoon, Channel 11 showed an "Abbott and Costello" movie. Since they made many, there was a large rotation. One of my favorites was "A&C Meet Frankenstein", the first Universal horror movie I ever saw. I must have took out every monster book out of the children's section of the library, reading about Frankenstein, Dracula, werewolves, mummies and scientists who insist on experimenting on themselves. So I was already familar with the Golem legend.


That issue was a minor classic of mood and artwork. The Golem himself was a large purple rock man with the requisited carved-on trunks. He looked somewhat unfinished and blocky which was actually appropiate. Purple was an unique choice but it made him stand out. The Golem was re-animated by the murder of an archeologist and charged with protecting his adult grandson, granddaughter and her fiance. A group of renegade Arab soldiers responsible for the professor's death try to kidnap the trio and are crushed by the Golem, who went immobile afterwards.


After a reprint in #175, #176 sees the Golem leave the desert on a ship and get attacked by his first, greatest and only nemesis, Kaballa the Unclean, who wants to possess him, and his elementals. #177 have them arrive in St. Petersburg, Florida and the Golem again thwarts him. And that was the last solo Golem story. Three issues seemed short to decide to cancel a series. His "cousin", It the Living Colossus

lasted longer.


So the Golem's tale ended where many features do, in Marvel Two-In-One. # 11(S'76) had Kaballa finally gain possession of the Golem. Luckily the Thing was on vacation and helps his three friends get to Golem so their influence can allow the Golem to break free. He went immobile in the middle of town and may still be there. The Golem never appeared again, as far as I can tell. He never had a page in any of the Marvel

Handbooks until the 70s special. In the back, they said the Golem was part of the monster Howling Commandos but I recently reread the six-issue series and I didn't see him there.


As a kid, I always hoped the Golem would resurface, maybe as a team's strongman or battle the Hulk or team with Spidey but alas, the Golem would only be significant in my memories!

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  • I have one of the Golem Strange Tales, which features a re-telling of a old folkloric tale regarding the golem. I don't recall if it's within the context of the main story or just a short of its own, but either way it's very cool to see it visualized.

    As a fan of the also-ran 1970s Marvel horror characters, I'd have liked to see more of him/it too!
  • It was treated like a prologue but it was a real folktale. Elements were incorporated into the Marvel Golem like the burning word "emeth" (Hebrew for truth) which would appear at the appropiate time.
  • A sort-of Golem appeared in Invaders #13 (it turns out to be something other than a "real" Golem). My recollection is a later letters columns spoke of the story as prequel to the Strange Tales ones, but I've not seen them and don't know in what way it was connected to them, if at all.
  • Oddly, I have the Brother Voodoo and the Adam Warlock issues of Strange Tales which bookened Golum, but I've never read the Golum issues themselves. (I was first introduced to the Golum legend in another comic book, Hulk #134.) It's funny what kids will latch on to. For you it was Golum, but for me it was his "cousin," It the Living Colossus (which only had a four-issue run in Astonishing Tales, BTW, so It wasn't given much more of a chance). I remember first encountering Colossus in his second appearance reprinted in Monsters on the Prowl, then shortly thereafter, seeing his Bronze Age debut on the spinner rack at Ahmann's Newstand. I corresponded with Tony Isabella (quite some time ago) to ask about how some of the sub-plots he set up were to be developed. He answered my questions, thanked me for my interest and remarked about how often it is someone fondly remembers those comics to him.

    I'm a pretty big fan of those Universal Studios monster movies, too, by by the time A&C got ahold of them they were pretty much winding down. Still, it's neat they way even that spoof was more or less "in continuity" with the previous serious offerings.
  • The Invaders' Golem was a man who turned into a Golem and spoke. He returned in the 90s Invaders mini.

    At least It had a couple of pre-FF reprints AND get to team with Fin Fang Foom!

    A&C Meet Frankenstein was the last of the 40s Universal monster movies and the second and last time Bela Lugosi portrayed Dracula. Yes, it was a comedy but it sparked my interest for the entire series.
  • Thanks for the article, Mr. Point!

    If you read the Golem "series", you see the repetition already. He saves the same three people four times and battles the same villain three times. Marvel got stuck in a rut pretty quickly. Still, he had an odd charm and I'm glad other people remember and appeciate our Purple Powerhouse!
  • Love Brother Boogie on that scan.

    I'd never heard of Marvel's Golem but I loved this little tribute to him. It really does look like Marvel are going to reprint everyone sooner or later, so he may appear in an Essential Marvel Horror down the track.

    From what you've written here, he sounds very like the DC Monolith series from about 5 years ago. I've been tempted to pick it up from the bargain bins, and would have the whole series by now if I'd started. It seems it wasn't so bad.

    The info about the early episodes of Warlock's adventures being outsold by the Golem's run, perhaps speaks to the point I made in that X-men thread about the need to have creators with a vision and engagement with the characters to carry a strip through sales doldrums (only up to a point, of course). In that little article above they talk about flinging them out to see what sinks or swims.

    Regarding the Golem in popular culture - what is the single text that really showcases it? Like Dracula is to vampire stories? Isn't it a novel or a play about a Jewish ghetto where they create a Golem to protect themselves?
  • Actually he was in Essential Marvel Horror Vol.2 where I refreshed my memories about him, though I have the originals.

    I heard about Monolith but I don't think it lasted too long. There were Golems in Suicide Squad as part of an Israeli team, natch, and as a member of Primal Force which was an offshoot of......Zero Hour!!! How does that keep happening??

    There were a couple of silent German movies starring the same guy, I believe. It is said that they had an influence on the 1931 Frankenstein. There is even a story where Bela Lugosi tested as the Monster wearing Golem-like make-up. That's footage I would Love to see!
  • The 1920 movie "The Golem," starring Paul Wegener, is the one to see.

    You'll find plenty about the Golem in Michael Chabon's novel, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay." The novel draws parallels between the Golem of legend (created by a rabbi to protect the Jewish population of Prague) and the superheroes of the 1930s (created by largely Jewish writers and artists to save the weak and defenseless).
  • Wegener starred as a golem in two German silent films, Der Golem (1915), and Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam ("The Golem, how he came into the world", 1920).(1) The first film is usually said to be lost, but a couple of sequences survive.

    Other golem films include an Austrian comedy called Der Dorfsgolem ("The Village Golem", 1921: the IMDB has a single user review that describes it), a French film called Le Golem (1936: Wikipedia has a description here), and a Czech film called Císařův pekař a pekařův císař (1952: Wikipedia has a description here, images can be seen here). It! (1967) starred Roddy McDowall as a misfit who gains control of a powerful golem. It's so-so. Reportedly, the film-makers deliberately imitated the style of Hammer films.

    Apparently, treatments in German literature of the Golem theme go back to the 19th century. The one I've previously heard of is Gustav Meyrink's novel The Golem (1913-14). Wikipedia has an account here. The novel has been translated into English, but I haven't read it.

    According to Wikipedia's page "Golem" an Israeli writer called Eli Eshed has argued the story of the Golem of Prague can't be traced back further than Berthold Auerbach's novel Spinoza (1837). Mr. Eshed's article is here (link via Wikipedia): however, it's in Hebrew. There's a summary in English, though, and a link to an online English translation of the novel (just do a search for "golem" to find the passage).

    Wikipedia has an account of H. Leivick's play Der Goylem (1922), on the Golem of Prague theme, here. According to this, the work "became a standard of Yiddish theater".

    The collection Great Works of Jewish Fantasy, ed. Joachim Neugroschel, includes a translation of a Yiddish writing on the Golem of Prague theme from 1909 by Yudl Rosenberg, purporting to be a translation of a Hebrew account by the son in law of the rabbi who's supposed to have created the golem. Neugroschel calls it "primitive, schematic and tendentious", but notes its influence on Leivick's work and a novel by Chaim Bloch.

    (1) Wegener also wore the costume in Der Golem und die Tänzerin ("The Golem and the Dancing Girl", 1917), but there he played an actor (himself?) who dresses up as the golem, either to seduce the dancer or play a practical joke on her. Wikipedia says the film is lost but I think there used to be a detailed description in a user comment at the IMDB supposedly based on a viewing. It isn't there now.
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