Title: American Gods.
Story-Arc: My Ainsel.
Writer(s): Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell.
Artist(s): Scott Hampton.
Colourist(s): Jennifer T. Lange.
Letterer(s): Rick Parker.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.
Release Date: April 23rd 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Fantasy.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
Previously on American Gods:
American Gods (Vol. 1): Shadows by Neil Gaiman.
As the adaptation of one of Neil Gaiman’s greatest novels continues, the second book of this trilogy of graphic novels continues to explore the battle of Gods as they are brought to life and reel in Shadow into the middle of it all. This story centered around immigration and the clash of cultures is a ride to remember as it highlights some of the greatest issues that mankind has had to face over the years right in the heart of America. With a decent amount of cynism infused into this narrative and a protagonist who is as lost as the reader throughout this adventure, the story progresses towards the grand finale that is bound to be revealed in American Gods: The Moment of the Storm. However, how well does this second installment do in retaining the reader’s attention and building the anticipation? I got news for you. Only good things can come when Neil Gaiman is the maestro behind the orchestra.
What is American Gods: My Ainsel about? Collecting issues #1-9 and covering the midsection of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods novel, this sequel sees Shadow and Wednesday leave the House on the Rock and pursue their mission as they hunt down and recruit peculiar Gods for their upcoming war. Making a pit stop to the snowbound town of Lakeside, Shadow takes on his new name, Mike Ainsel, and acquaints himself with the residents as he learns to survive and create a home for himself. Unfortunately for him, strange incidents are occurring around him but also during his dreams that force him to ponder about his life and what he wants to do with it. Amidst his rumination, the origin stories of several Gods and their trickery are exposed while their survival among modern deities is presented to the reader.
While this section of the novel was slow-paced and stretched on forever, the graphic novel continues to deploy excellent visual adjustments that allowed the story to flow steadily. There aren’t a lot of peripeteia that occurs in the narrative as it essentially consists of a sequence of stories interweaved with side-stories focused on various folklores and mythologies. It’s through the artwork that Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell bring out the story’s bizarreness and otherworldliness. Often the plot also shifts between dreams and reality to allow it to concretize its fantastic elements and remind the reader of the story’s surrealism. Thankfully, the artwork provides the reader with the opportunity to embrace the intangible breadth of this story and what occurs to Shadow.
Artist Scott Hampton and colourist Jennifer T. Lange also do a mysteriously good job in translating Neil Gaiman’s novel with their artistic vision. The task is a challenge in itself and they strive to surmount it with a style that is unexpectedly adequate for this story. Although it is strange at times, with facial expressions that are sometimes disturbing or character designs that are too square, rough or blocky, Scott Hampton’s artwork still succeeds in capturing both the unrealness of the moment and the mysticism of the reality. It is also worth noting that there is a certain stiffness in the art that is unsettling for the reader yet perfect for the narrative. As absurd as it may sound, the story feels both like a long road trip but also a long campfire story. Not too surprising when it comes to Neil Gaiman, right?
American Gods: My Ainsel is a stellar adaptation—with suitable artwork to go hand in hand with the plot—of an ambitious trilogy that covers the recruitment of Gods for an impending war.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
Already at its second season, the live-action TV series adaptation of the novel continues to impress fans. Have you seen it? Do you plan to?