American Gods is blowing up right now – If you haven't read the Gaiman novel, American Gods, go do it. It doesn't necessarily have to be now but if you're waiting for the next comic (see below) or you're waiting for the new STARZ series (coming April 30, 2017) … you'll have an enjoyable, award winning read while you wait. It's a great time for this title with a new comic that has just started and a new TV series premiering at the end of the month.
Dark Horse announced American Gods: Shadows last year – Here's a press release dating back to October 2016
From the release, we can see the folks who are working on the comic:
“Dark Horse tapped P. Craig Russell (The Sandman: The Dream Hunters)—who, having worked on Coraline and The Graveyard Book, is no stranger to adapting Neil Gaiman’s work—to adapt and co-write the comic series, while Scott Hampton (Hellboy, Batman) lends his illustrative skills to the complex world Gaiman created. Glenn Fabry (Preacher) and Adam Brown (Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens) create the hauntingly beautiful cover art. David Mack (Kabuki, Fight Club 2) and Dave McKean (Black Dog, Cages) provide variant covers for the first issue. The American Gods comic series will feature guest interior art by Walt Simonson (Thor), Mark Buckingham (Fables), Colleen Doran (The Sandman), P. Craig Russell, and more.”
This is a great group of talent and a reminder for myself that I want to pick up Preacher. The first American Gods: Shadows issue came out last month and it really set the stage nicely for the remainder of the series. If you haven't read the book and don't want spoilers, you should stop here and go on to something else. Before you go, just note that the art, letting and story all looked good and seem to be leading us to a solid comic series and a nice graphic representation of the book.
OK, you've been warned…
In book 1, the issues starts with Shadow finishing up a prison term. His cell mate, Lyesmith, has some influence on him but it's subtle. If the comics stick to the script, we'll learn quite a bit more about Lysmith later on in the series. The first half of the comic did a nice job of portraying that Shadow was just sort of existing, training his slight-of-hand coin tricks, and waiting for something to happen and going through the motions. Something big does happen – Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a car accident just before Shadow is about to be released from incarceration. The prison releases Shadow a few days early so he can attend the funeral. On the way, Shadow meets Mr. Wednesday. The way the first issue ended seemed perfect in terms of the timing of the story. The reader gets a brief introduction to Wednesday and some glimpse in to his strangeness – clearly something is up but unpacking all that has to wait.
Issue 1 had several variant covers – my personal favorite is the one by Fabry/Brown.
Book 2 came out this week and the story continues with Mr. Wednesday pressing Shadow to take a job. While the 2 men are having dinner together, Wednesday informs Shadow that Shadow's friend, who had offered a job, died with Shadow's wife. Before Shadow and Wednesday can negotiate further, we Mad Sweeney joins the party. Right off the bat Sweeney says – “I'm a leprechaun” but Shadow doesn't bat an eye. The men proceed to have several adult beverages (with Shadow drinking mead provided by Wednesday) and continue discussion about Shadow working for Wednesday. They come to an agreement when Sweeney starts showing off some of his own coin tricks. Shadow wants to know the secret behind the tricks and so Sweeney challenges Shadow to a fight. Eventually they get down to it and Shadow ends up winning. The ordeal leaves shadow with bumps and bruises but also with a special coin from Sweeney. Shadow and Wednesday make their way to Laura's funeral where Shadow learn's some more detail about the circumstances of Laura's death from Shadow's best friend's wife. Apparently Laura and his best friend had been having an affair and they are accused of some inappropriate behavior while driving… possibly leading to their demise. Shadow visits Laura's grave site and drops in the coin he received from Sweeney. As he's departing, Shadow is nabbed by some men working for a fat sickly, angry man in a stretch limo – Techno Boy. Techno Boy shouts some warnings for Wednesday but eventually drops Shadow at his hotel.
Again, multiple variant covers are available –
Book 3 comes out May 17 (here's preview cover)
The story is playing out well in graphical format and I'm very interested in following along. Dark Horse also has many other great titles for you to check out as well.
Also, if the comic is just not enough for you – here is the trailer for the new STARZ series…
I'm so jazzed that I went ahead and added STARZ to my DirecTV package and am eagerly awaiting the premier on April 30. The casting of Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday seems perfect and I look forward to seeing the story translated to the small screen.
It'll be interesting to see how new fans react to having the book, the comic and the TV series as reference points. I'm thinking about how Game of Thrones readers would react to differences between books and the TV series and would anticipate the same reaction if any of the newer materials diverge from the original. I tend to agree with GRRM when he posits that each work can stand on it's own but for me, I'd be interested in the reasons behind why decisions are made to modify content.
More to come after I see the premier.
Have you read American Gods and are you following along with either the comics or planning to watch the series on STARZ?
Above comic images are copyright and/or property of Dark Horse comics or their licensors.