(2020) Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell & Scott Hampton, Headline, £20, hrdbk, 220pp, ISBN 978-1-472-25138-1
This is volume 3 of the graphic novels based on Neil Gaimanís multi-award winning novel, and TV series, which collects nine comics into a single volume, and also features the cover art from each issue by David Mack and Glenn Fabry as well as a sketch book by Scott Hampton showing photos of himself and Jennifer Lange, his colourist, posing as a couple of the characters and finally right at the end there are some sketches by P. Craig Russell.
To be honest, it is years since I read the original novel (2001), even the ďauthorís preferred textĒ, which added over a hundred pages to its length, therefore it is hard to remember how faithful the comics and graphic novels are to the book, but they certainly seem to have captured the spirit of Gaimanís tale, if not a lot of the words. Given the way the TV series is meandering along it is a long way off from reaching the events depicted here, because this is the end. Wednesday is dead, killed by the new gods, and there is only the small matter of collecting his corpse from those who killed him, and holding a vigil over his dead body. But can those new gods be trusted to make the transfer without upping the body count? There is only one way to do it, and that is to visit the centre of America Ė a void for the gods, a grim and unsettling place, which makes both parties jumpy, and trigger-happy as they wait and wait for their burgers to arrive.
Shadow, of course is caught in the middle, wanting to fulfil his promise to Wednesday, even if the old man is dead, and trying to fend off the advances of the new gods as they try and persuade him to switch sides, but why, he wonders, heís not that important, or is he? War is coming, and even if Shadow can survive that, there are plenty of other loose ends in his life that he needs to sort out involving his personal life and people he has encountered on his journey, before he fulfils another promise and takes a hammer blow to his head that will mean the end of him, but of course, gods are not to be trusted and it is going to be a long and bumpy road for Shadow to follow before he gets to kneel before that old god and take a strike to the head.
Given the source, you canít fault the plot in this graphic novel, and the cover artwork from Mack and Fabry are as good as you would expect. Hamptonís artwork seems simplistic, it is almost cartoon-like, or cartoon strip-like, almost mundane and then slips subtly into the magical and surreal. Obviously, these comics arenít the novel or the TV series, and if you havenít read the novel then I would suggest you read it first and then the graphic novels afterwards, but really, itís your choice. Given the way TV series are cancelled, American Gods, the show, might not reach the end of Shadowís journey, but the reader can, through the novel and these graphic novels.
Dark Horse have already started releasing the comic book version of Gaimanís Norse Mythology adapted by P. Craig Russell, but lest they forget, I would remind them that there are two long short-stories out there involving the continued adventures of a major character from American Gods (no spoilers here, but if you are a Gaiman-devotee, youíll know who I mean) that are just waiting to be turned into a comic or two, but in the meantime American Gods: The Moment of the Storm is highly recommended.
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