American Gods Volume 1: Shadows

Story and Words: Neil Gaiman
Art: Scott Hampton
Script and Layouts: P. Craig Russell
Letters: Rick Parker

Review by Hafsa Alk

Due to my love for Neil Gaiman and American Gods in general, I never knew how much I would dislike reviewing American Gods Volume 1: Shadows. The dislike stems from the difficulty of removing bias from my critique. Still, I managed it even if it took me a while.

American Gods: Shadows is exactly what it says in the title. It’s American Gods the novel turned into a comic. And, it feels exactly like that. By that I mean that the narrative follows the book exactly, making the volume slightly boring. If the reader has never experienced the original narrative, this is a great alternative.

Still, if the last two-three issues of American Gods: Shadows are any indication of the quality of the graphic novel moving forward, I am really on board! They managed to humanize the godly figures and express their otherworldliness. The narrative and the art work well together at this point and even enhance each other. That is what we want from comics, in general.

The art of American Gods: Shadows started off with a classic comics style then delves into a weirder style that matches the style of the narrative. I wish the weird art started earlier, indicating what there is to come. However, as an escalation, the art was able to match Shadow’s disintegration into the world of the “gods”. This escalated weirdness is what I enjoyed the most.

What kept me going was the art of the issue dividers and the cover art. These pieces were able to explore the thematic undertones of the narrative. They also were able to explore the otherworldliness of the concept of gods. I highly enjoyed these art pieces because they spoke to the ability of art to portray ideas that words sometimes fail to do.

Wait and see. I really liked the last two-three issues and the scenes with the different gods of American Gods: Shadows because the art gave the narrative more life. The rest of the narrative just felt the novel in comic form with nothing added. Ending the story on a strong note makes me want to read more.

However, I hope to see the series take the direction of the later issues rather than the earlier ones. The narrative was severely improved by the creativity of the art. Although I am not implying that the narrative is boring, because the original narrative is amazing, the graphic novel just needs more time to grow into itself.

Read it: it is very good, but I needed more to actually enjoy it beyond the narrative.

American Gods Volume 1: Shadows will be available Tuesday, March 13.

Hafsa Alkhudairi
Hafsa Alkhudairi doing her MA Contemporary Literature and Culture at Birkbeck College, University of London, living in London, UK. She is graduating hopefully in october and has her heart set on going into publishing until she decides whether there is a PHD in her future. Current Project; Figuring out who is the big bad female villain in Marvel and DC.

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