Comic Review: American Gods Volume 1: Shadows HC (Dark Horse)

Hey, anytime a Neil Gaiman graphic novel comes along, I’m in! This one, American Gods by Dark Horse, is a road trip across an America that can only come from […]

Hey, anytime a Neil Gaiman graphic novel comes along, I’m in! This one, American Gods by Dark Horse, is a road trip across an America that can only come from the mind of a master!

The volume entitled “Shadows” is actually a collection of the single issues 1-9 of the comic series of that name. It’s a large book, numbering 268 pages, including covers, so give yourself ample time to savour it. It is not a book to rush through, and I’ll explain why:

Things start out in current day, with Shadow, a prisoner, trying to make it through a stretch of jail time. He wants to get out to see his wife, Laura. Unfortunately, when he IS released, his home situation has changed, and life is not what it used to be. So, he picks up a job working for a businessman who looks like Rip Torn, the TV actor. The man calls himself “Wednesday”, and Shadow begins working for him.

The story set up is simple enough, but: not really. Intermingled with Shadow’s new position with Wednesday is an elliptical dreamlike tale of magic, travel, eccentric characters, Gods who used to live, and Gods who live today. Stories of those who traveled to America and died in America.

Shadows is not predictable in its approach to the characters, its sense of direction, nor its rhythm. What it IS, however, is a dreamy, fatalistic journey into the lives of people who arrived in America to try to make their dreams come true.

Perhaps that is the meaning (by the way, the story continues, unfinished in this volume) for American Gods; your dreams can direct your conscious and subconscious. Some things are predetermined, others might just seem that way.

From a novel by Neil Gaiman. Script and layouts by P. Craig Russell, art by Scott Hampton. Lettering quality is variable, as done by Rick Parker. There are several pages of rough sketches and inked pages following the end of the story that may be of interest to Russell fans.

Dark Horse, American Gods: Shadows, HC $29.99 for 268 pages of content, Rated 14+

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!