Review: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: Shadows #1

The comic book adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s award-winning American Gods is everything you need to hold you over until the STARZ tv version premieres and then some. P. Craig Russell does an amazing job at adapting the story into a readable and enjoyable comic book, he trims the “fat” nicely without compromising the story or the material that we all fell in love with. For those who haven’t read the book yet, the comic book is a nice entry and primer to it and I hope you feel compelled to read the book as well and watch the show.

Scott Hampton gives us low-fi pulp status visuals that bring the story to life in a way that seems more (sur)real than fans of the book could have imagined and he doesn’t skimp on the parts that you thought you’d never see.

There’s always a danger in adaptations of popular material that you’ll screw up the source material, take to many liberties and tick off the fans but, that’s not a problem that this comic book has. In fact having it come out before the TV show might have put some pressure on STARZ to make sure they get it right. There’s a lot of detail in the comic book that holds true to the book but, doesn’t come off as vulgar or exploitive. There’s no shock value or gore just a well-adapted story, with simple yet creative visuals that paint a beautiful picture into the world that our hero Shadow is about to enter.

The first issue of this series focuses on Shadow, his back story, time in prison, motivation to that pivotal moment where he meets and interacts with the “man” who will change his life. As a nice “epilogue” to this issue, we get to meet Bilquis in action in LA which should excite fans of the Gaiman original and, engage newcomers to the story to what kind of story they should expect. This is a solid first issue for a well-loved novel and I’m happy to see it come to fruition. I’m sure the hardcover collected edition will be something that coffee tables will beg for, especially if they get a David Mack cover like Fight Club 2 had. I recommend buying the issue, especially if you can get one of the sweet Mack covers even if you’re tempted to wait for the collected edition because it’s a work of art.

Dark Horse has another hit on its hands with this one, not just because of the story’s original fans but, because it this strong first issue is any indication, they’re going to have whole bunch of new readers falling in love with the story for the first time as well as OG fans finding a new way to love the story in a new and exciting way.

Story: Neil Gaiman Adaptation: P. Craig Russell Art: Scott Hampton
Story: 9.1 Art: 8.9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

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