American Gods: Shadows by Neil Gaiman

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Title: American Gods.
Volume: 1.
Story-Arc: Shadows.
Writer(s): Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell.
Artist(s): Scott Hampton.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: May 13th 2018.
Pages: 208.
Genre(s): Comics,  Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9781506703862.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

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When thinking about literary Gods, Neil Gaiman comes to mind. His accomplishments so far have successfully garnered an incredible fan base that will hands-down praise his work forever. If you have ever read any of his work, you will notice that his fascination for dreams and mythologies is unprecedented, as his portrayal of his ideas reaches deep into the realm of creativity. American Gods is one of those work of fiction that successfully conveys his love for mythology and explores a whole cultural dilemma lived by many who often travel to lands where they discover a colossal clash of cultures. While it was a long ride when I first read it, it was still a very thought-provoking read that only offered its readers any form of gratification upon reaching the ending. With a comic book adaptation of his work, it was only a matter of time before his imagination was put to even better use.

What is American Gods: Shadows about? Upon his release from prison, Shadow Moon is lost in a world that he has yet to acclimate to as he discovers tragic news regarding his wife. While he dreaded this opportunity at a second chance, never would he have imagined it to kick off as it did. In denial, he continues with his plans until he crosses paths with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday who wishes to employ him. His demeanor and knowledge of the world, as well as Shadow’s personal life, astonishes him and leads him to ponder Mr. Wednesday’s proposition. What could possibly go wrong if he were to serve him as his bodyguard? Unfortunately for him, a storm is brewing and it is far bigger than he could have ever imaged it. Based entirely on Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods, this first volume collects issues #1-9 and covers part of the original story and more.

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When I first read the novel, I felt like I was being dragged around to different pit stops that would commence a whole new adventure with mysterious people who hide their real intentions until it’s too late to realize. Sooner or later you realize where the story is headed, you start to connect the dots and you understand that this isn’t a story focused solely on Shadow. This is a story that looks beyond his environment and into the world of Gods. While his decisions are the driving force of this novel, it is a game of ideologies that is ultimately explored in the background. To understand it all, you, unfortunately, need to stick around till the last pit stop and you need to take a moment to reflect on the whole trip. While Neil Gaiman’s writing style is what saves his novel from being dropped by many halfway through the adventure, the comic book format does an even better job in not only being loyal to the novel’s content but to give it the perfect pacing that allows the reader to quickly consume all the information and grasp the scope envisioned by Neil Gaiman for this story.

The artwork in American Gods: Shadows is appreciable. It is nothing that would maintain your jaw glued to the ground but it grows on you as the story progresses. At first glance, it leaves a poor impression with a style that remains rough and blurry with very little attention to details, whether it’s the character designs or the environment. Most of the appeal comes from symbolism and imagery amplified by Scott Hampton’s style. Some of the side-stories featuring Gods are also drawn by other artists who each embrace their styles and allow the story to proliferate and elevate Neil Gaiman’s ideas to new heights. With artwork by Walter Simonson, Colleen Doran, and Glenn Fabry, the creative team behind this volume is solid and each of their roles within the narrative is justified without ever giving the reader the impression that they are reading the work of multiple artists. As you reach the ending, you also come to realize that the art style perfectly fits with Neil Gaiman’s imagination and conveys his exotic and eccentric ideas focused on dreams and mythos.

American Gods: Shadows is an outstanding comic book adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novel and triumphantly translates visually the war between Gods in our time.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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Based on the novel of the same name, this TV series is developed by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green and is praised for its visual style and actor performances! Have you seen it? Do you plan to?

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6 comments

  • Ooh, American Gods comic book! That is something I’d really like to lay my hands on… I started watching the series and indeed the performances of the cast are impressive. I’m not entirely sold on the visual side yet, but maybe it’s something that grows on you 😉

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  • I will run this by Miss Plumtartt for possible viewing.

    Years ago I read ‘Good Omens’, by Neal Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I liked it okay, but I prefer the Pratchett ‘Dyscworld’ world. I think ‘Good Omens’ is being made into a movie, but I fear that it will be dreadful.

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  • Added it to my wishlist 🙂

    I love “American Gods”, and it’s not often that comic book adaptation manages to be more than “complete’s idiot” version of the novel. To think of it, one such case always was, for me, Gaiman’s Neverwhere….

    This one looks good and, with your recommendation, I’m sold on the idea to read it 🙂

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  • Unfortunately, I found the book rather trite and shallow and so have never been tempted to try out other mediums of the story. I’l leave it for those who enjoy it 🙂

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  • I need to read/watch American Gods, but you are so right when about Neil Gaiman. I found that it took a couple of books to adjust to his writing, but now I can understand why people hold him to such high regards. I especially love how he’s able to adapt his stories to suit multiple formats, it’s a credit to his immense talent. I had no idea that they had done a graphic novel for American Gods and I like how the artistic design and detail are a reflection of Gaiman’s imagination.

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