American Gods: Shadows #1
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
Artist(s): Scott Hampton & Lovern Kindzierski
Colorist: Scott Hampton
Cover: Glenn Habry
I’m one of the few people who have yet to read the novel but with all of the hype surrounding the upcoming live action show I decided it was time to dip my toe into the world of American Gods. Well, after reading this issue there’s a very high probability I’ll be going all in very soon.
If you’re new to American Gods you shouldn’t worry about being lost or confused picking up this issue. The story introduces readers to Shadow who is currently serving out the last few weeks of his prison sentence. It’s here where the bulk of the story takes place with Gaiman delivering a steady paced narrative that slowly pulls you into this point in Shadow’s life. And while it’s not filled with cliche’ chaotic prison antics there’s nothing but an uneasy tension throughout his time there. You’re just waiting for something bad to happen with each page turn as other characters are introduced and Shadow is going about his routine. When Gaiman & Russell finally let the unfortunate moment happen there’s that “aw damn!” moment because Shadow has been so focused on the next phase of his life that this is a kick in the nuts. Things soon get weird for Shadow and the suspense is picked up after a nightmare sequence and his meeting with Mister Wednesday. To be quite honest, you don’t ever trust a guy who breaks the number one rule in the bathroom. But Mister Wednesday obviously knows more than he’s letting on so the creative team does build up enough mystery and interest with the character to have you coming back for more.
The visuals by Hampton do set and keep the tone of the story in a way that makes the jail sequences enjoyable. And even though there’s not much that is visually exciting in those panels, Hampton does pick certain moments that enhance the narrative and keep you engaged. From Shadow’s interactions with the other inmates to his coin tricks there’s a distinct and eerie flow that blends the art and narrative quite perfectly. There were the odd moments where the faces of certain characters were slightly askew and didn’t match the previous panels but it’s not enough to take you out of the story.
There is a four page second story by Russell that takes an erotic encounter that delivers a happy ending with a twist. This introduces Bilquis and her victim is probably the luckiest or unluckiest guy depending on your point of view. Kindzierski’s art for this sequence is a bright contrast to the main story. The visuals immediately set a different tone that is sexy without being explicit and gratuitous. And just like the actual moment it’s depicting the moment is intense, powerful, and for some it’s over too soon.
American Gods: Shadows is a great introduction for anyone looking to get into this thriller. So I highly suggest picking it up and stepping into the world of American Gods!