American Gods Volume 1: Shadows Review

American Gods Volume 1: Shadows HC

This supernatural American road trip fantasy tells the story of a war between the ancient and modern gods.

Shadow Moon gets out of jail only to discover his wife is dead. Defeated, broke, and uncertain 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 where ghosts of the past come back from the dead, and a god war is imminent.

Collecting the first nine issues of the American Gods comic book series, along with art process features, high res scans of original art, layouts, character designs, and variant covers by Becky Cloonan, Skottie Young, Fabio Moon, Dave McKean, and more!

Creators

Writer: Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell

Artist: Scott Hampton, P. Craig Russell, Walt Simonson, Colleen Doran, Glenn Fabry

Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski, Laura Martin, Colleen Doran, Adam Brown

Cover Artist: David Mack

Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Action/Adventure

This is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book, American Gods, but it is not a Neil Gaiman comic. Neil Gaiman once wrote many comics but he has long since moved on to focus on novels and the like.  Occasionally he’ll write a comic story or an issue, but that is very far and few between (and I a sure money and favors heavily affect these brief returns to sequential storytelling).

This adaptation is a tad curious, because it wasn’t done after the book was made, no it was done after TV, based on the novel, was made. So despite all the great stories comics have made over it’s life time, it still has to chase after adaptions of tv and video games to gather attention and coin.  As I write this I wonder if there is a Comics God in American Gods, but I am guessing there is not.

I have never watched or read anything of American Gods before reading this, but it still has familiar themes that Gaiman likes to visit. I have read a lot of Sandman (being a comics reader and teenager during the 90s it was almost required).  Gaiman likes to talk about forgotten gods or lost ones, either being pushed out by modern times, or just lost with the changes time brings.

In American Gods, the basic gist is that old gods, from the old world are being pushed out by the new gods of America. The Gods of Technology and TV are fighting against the likes of Odin and Zorya Utrennyaya.  Said like that, it sounds like a simple enough premise that could easily make a bad video game, but it’s the execution of the story that is key.  It’s the journey that Gaiman takes you, following along with Shadow Moon, that you get more out of the story than its simple trappings.  That said even a good story can be ruined (and has on numerous occasions) by a bad adaption, but Dark Horse was smart enough to get  Craig Russell, a man who has adapted so many classic pieces of literature, to adapt Gaiman’s story.

The art is fine, but it doesn’t do anything to distract or enhance the story. It serves its function and gets out of the story’s way.

Several minor nitpicks. Again this book makes notice of any sort of mature material in it.  There is enough sex in the book to where an older teenager would be okay, but it’s not appropriate for a younger child.  As experience has taught comics, parents are going to check what they’re reading, so labels are necessary to prevent any outcry of indecency later.

Also, this is technically not a graphic novel. It’s a trade paper back, collecting the first 9 issues of the comic adaption of American Gods.  That means the pacing and the lack of real ending shows that it wasn’t designed for the format I read it in.  Didn’t really take away much from the story except for the sudden stop of the ending of volume.

If you are a fan of Gaiman’s previous work, this is an easy sell for you. Also if you like a little more sophistication with your comics, you won’t be disappointed either.

They only way I could see you could go wrong with this book is if you are expecting something new from Gaiman or new insight into the American Gods story. No, I haven’t read or seen the book or show, but I’ve read several articles on the differences and similarities of all 3 and they seem to be treading the same ground.

Over all I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. I would have given it a 5 but there were too many echoes of stories like Sandman to make this story truly unique and special.  Gaiman has set the bar so high for himself with past works that expectations for him are higher than most other writers.  Still it’s an amazing read regardless my picking at it.

If you want to read more about this book go to – https://www.darkhorse.com/Books/30-457/American-Gods-Volume-1-Shadows-HC

Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.

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