Arguably, Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods has become one of the seminal pieces of fiction of the last thirty years. Following its critically acclaimed adaptation into a TV series, starring Ricky Whittle and Ian McShane, it was adapted into a short-run comic by acclaimed creators P. Craig Russell and Scott Hampton through Dark Horse Comics and has now been anthologised into a hardback collection.
American Gods tells the story of Shadow Moon, a man recently released from prison who has lost his wife and every other facet of his previous life. However, he then meets by chance Mr. Wednesday, who takes Shadow into his employ initially as a bodyguard. But as Shadow does more and more of Mr. Wednesday’s bidding he learns that the America he lives in is an America he doesn’t know at all; it has been taken over by Modern-day Gods, representing the media, conspiracy theories and globalisation to name a few. However, Mr. Wednesday has a plan to bring the Ancient Gods together for war.
This first collection of American Gods is a must for any fan or American Gods or the work of Neil Gaiman. It is a strong alternative adaptation of the novel, in the sense that whilst it was tempting to draw the characters as they would appear in the TV series, Russell and Hampton put their spin on characters such as Mr. Wednesday (less Ian McShane and more Charles Dance in this case!) and Shadow Moon. Meanwhile, what it does have in common with the TV series, is its refusal to hold back on the more gratuitous aspects of the novel, particularly the sex and the violence. This adaptation would certainly not have lived up to expectations otherwise. Some fans may be a tad disappointed that it is not a page-to-page literal translation of the book, but every aspect is there, it just may not be in the preferred order.
In short, this adaptation is wonderful. It is there to sit alongside the TV series and the novel as another way to tackle and understand Gaiman’s deep, rich narrative; only a minority of purists will question this piece of well-drawn fiction.
AMERICAN GODS / WRITER: NEIL GAIMAN, P. CRAIG RUSSELL / ARTIST: SCOTT HAMPTON / PUBLISHER: HEADLINE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW