Comic Review: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: Shadows #1
By Empress Eve
Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 at 10:00 am
American Gods: Shadows #1 Story and Words by Neil Gaiman
Script and Layout by P. Craig Russell
Art by Scott Hampton
Colors by Scott Hampton
Letters by Rick Parker
Covers by Glenn Fabry with Adam Brown, Scott Hampton, Dave McKean, David Mack, Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 15, 2017
Cover Price: $3.99
Neil Gaiman‘s award-winning, best-selling all-around amazing novelAmerican Gods is soon to be a television series on Starz, but first, Dark Horse Comics has launched an ongoing comic book adaptation with American Gods: Shadows #1.
In this first issue, we’re introduced to Shadow Moon, who’s nearing the end of his 3-year prison sentence. He wants nothing more than to just go home and finally be reunited with his wife, Laura — well, that and to take a bubble bath. But one thing is clear, he’s going to stay out of trouble from now on and work on rebuilding his life. Unfortunately, days before his scheduled release, he learns the devastating news that Laura has died, leaving him lost with no sense of what the future holds for him.
That seems like a pretty typical scenario, right? Man serving time can’t wait to get home to his wife and vows to stay out of trouble, keep his nose clean, and so on, but then tragedy strikes causing his life to change course. Well, this introduction to Shadow is the beginning and the end of the mundane for this story, because a storm is coming, and with it is an epic battle brewing between the Old Gods (those from the Old World now transplanted to America) and the New Gods (modern-day technology-based deities who originated in America). On his trip home, Shadow meets Mr. Wednesday, who’s not only been waiting for the ex-con, but he has a job for him, too.
Since the story opens with Shadow in prison, we get to meet some of his cellmates and discover a little bit about how he spent his incarceration, all of which will be relevant later on. There’s also a dream sequence with the Buffalo Man, who graces the premiere issue’s main cover by artist Glenn Fabry’s. And this, truly, is only the beginning, because things are going to get wild as Shadow makes his way across America.
For this comic book adaptation, P. Craig Russell creates a layout from Gaiman’s story and words from the book, truncating where necessary, allowing the art by Scott Hampton to take over. But, there’s still a lot of words here, which letterer Rick Parker fits in nicely and neatly in the panels.
Russell, who previously adapted some of Gaiman’s works (such as Coraline), was the illustrator on some of the author’s Sandman comics, which is why it was such a pleasant surprise at the end of the issue to see him switch over to artist mode for the “Somewhere In America” vignette. (Lovern Kindzierski is co-credited with the art for this part.) The changeover to Russell’s art will be instantly recognizable to fans of Sandman. As with the novel, this comic veers from Shadow’s main storyline to spotlight some of the aforementioned Old Gods, and here, Russell does a mind-blowingly beautiful rendering of one of the most talked-about and twisted sequences from the book, with the goddess Bilquis somewhere in Los Angeles. (FYI – This ending is graphic in more ways than one and there is nudity.)
American Gods: Shadows #1 is a quick and captivating read, but you’ll definitely want to pay attention to the art, as well as to the little details that seem irrelevant. I’m certain it will warrant a re-read once you get further along in this ongoing series. (That’s right, it’s not a miniseries! It’ll be 27 issues, divided up into three story arcs, with Shadows being the first.) Though the novel is, of course, king, for people who prefer sequential art, this adaptation is perfect, while also being a great refresher with new visuals for fans of the book.
WAR IS COMING!
Shadow Moon just got out of jail, only to discover his wife is dead. Defeated, broke, and uncertain as to where to go from here, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who employs him to serve as his bodyguard-thrusting Shadow into a deadly world of the supernatural, where ghosts of the past come back from the dead, and a brewing war between old and new gods hits a boiling point.
The Hugo, Bram Stoker, Locus, World Fantasy, and Nebula award–winning novel and upcoming Starz television series by Neil Gaiman is adapted as a comic series for the first time!