In my humble opinion, Gaiman is a literary rock star. There is nothing of his that I have read which has not completely blown my mind, particularly his novel American Gods, a book I was considering reading a second time. But then when I learned Gaiman was writing a graphic series based upon his book, I figured I would read that instead… for now anyway.
This first installment contains the beginning threads of two strands of the tale. First, we are introduced to Shadow Moon, who is released from prison right after his wife is killed in an automobile accident. He is approached by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday who offers him a job. The second thread introduces us to a goddess incarnate as a prostitute. She convinces her trick to worship her during sex, which increase her power (divine beings require worship for strength). The scene concludes with a reverse birth, where the man is returned to the womb of the goddess in a symbolic representation of the spiritual cycle of birth-life-death-rebirth.
One of the symbols that figures prominently in this first issue is the storm.
Inmate: We got to talk.
Inmate: Storm’s on the way.
Shadow: Feels like it. Maybe it’ll snow soon.
Inmate: Not that kind of storm. Bigger storms than that coming. I tell you, boy, you’re better off in here than out on the street when the big storm comes.
Shadow: Done my time. Friday I’m gone. Eagle point, Indiana.
Inmate: Like I said, big storm coming. It’s like… what do they call those things continents ride around on?
Shadow: Tectonic plates?
Inmate: That’s it. Tectonic plates. It’s like, when they go riding, when North America goes skidding into South America, you don’t want to be in the middle. You dig me?
Shadow: Not even a little.
Inmate: Hell, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The coming of a storm is something unseen, yet very tangible. Even before you see the dense clouds gathering on the horizon, there is an electricity in the air, a heaviness, a sense of foreboding. Forces build to the point where there is a violent release of pent-up energy. I have felt this in society. It certainly feels like there is a storm on our global horizon right now, too. If we are lucky, the clouds will dissipate and not coalesce into a storm, but whether this happens or not is truly beyond our control.
As far as the artwork in this graphic series goes, it’s OK. It is not nearly as great as the artwork in some of Gaiman’s other graphic works, particularly the Sandman saga, but it’s not the worst artwork either. But it is Neil’s craftsmanship of the written word that really drives this tale; the art just seems to add another layer of symbolism to it. I’m really excited to see how the story plays out on the pages. Second installment should be out soon. Expect my thoughts shortly afterward.