cover image American Gods, Vol. 1: Shadows

American Gods, Vol. 1: Shadows

Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell, and Scott Hampton. Dark Horse, $29.99 (208p) ISB

Russell (The Sandman: Dream Hunters), a frequent collaborator with Gaiman, does a bang-up job in adapting the bestselling, campy supernatural prose titles into the first of three graphic novel collections. Ex-con Shadow’s life is thrown into chaos when he’s hired by mysterious Mr. Wednesday—Odin of Norse myth—and drawn into a battle between gods of legend and those worshipped by modern America. Wednesday and Shadow’s cross-country road trip allies them with Anubis and Anansi (ancient gods hiding in plain sight under mundane and macabre identities) and pits them against contemporary deities Conspiracy and Media (figured as a hilariously profane Lucille Ball). The careful preservation of the voice of the original series will please Gaiman purists, and Hampton’s atmospheric artwork is outstanding, especially his skillful coloring. Muted shades dominate, but pastels appear when Shadow encounters the rare characters who are neither mythic or dead. Brilliant colors blaze out when it’s time for magic. A series of guest artists (including Colleen Doran, Glenn Fabry, David Mack, and Walter Simonson) illustrate flashbacks, vignettes, and re-told fables. This is a suitably epic treatment of a grand saga, with art that brings enough new life to the popular fiction for its many followers to add to their collections. Agent: Merilee Heifetz, Writers House. (Mar.)