By Tom Russo
Updated December 19, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

James Sturm’s newly reprinted graphic novel reads like the movie John Sayles should’ve made instead of ”Eight Men Out:” In the 1920s, a Jewish baseball team barnstorms the heartland, content to play for love of the game. But when they allow a slick promoter to tweak their gimmick with a golem — the cabalistic automaton of Hebrew myth — foretold chaos ensues. Sturm’s prose is as elegantly understated as his line work. And every now and then he throws the heater: ”They’ve been waiting for their Messiah a thousand years,” says one opponent. ”So they know how to wait on a curveball.”