This week Neil Gaiman’s classic American Gods comes to comics, and Stuart Immonen starts his run on Amazing Spider-Man!
American Gods: Shadows #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
With the upcoming TV adaptation coming our way, it was only a matter of time until someone decided to adapt Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in comic book form. Picking up the adaptation torch is Dark Horse Comics, who’ve had a long relationship with Gaiman’s work in the past. With longtime Gaiman collaborator P Craig Russell and artist Scott Hampton pitching in, American Gods: Shadows is a good adaptation for those who have never read the original novel before, but if you have, there’s not a lot of new things brought to the table.
Shadow Moon is on the tail end of a jail sentence. The idea of returning home to his wife and restarting his life has dominated his thoughts for the last 3 years he’s been in prison. But just days before he’s set to be released, Moon receives some tragic news, leaving him extremely lost, until he finds Mr. Wednesday, who’s offering a job for Shadow Moon, and will reveal things about our world that Moon could never imagine.
Shadows is one of the more straight-forward adaptations of a book I’ve ever seen. Using excerpts from Gaiman’s book as the caption boxes, Russell is able to create a comic that is really faithful to the original story. This was helpful for me, as I read American Gods about a decade ago and remember only snippets of it, but for die hard Gaiman maniacs it might make for a bit of a boring read. Not only that, but the opening page that sets up the book tells you exactly what happens before you even read the issue, and it’s much more spoilery than my description above.
Scott Hampton has a loose style that works well for the prison scenes in Shadows, but when he needs to showcase busy airports or airplanes it falls flat. Hampton’s style is simply too loose to accurately portray these aspects of the story, and while his facial expressions look great on Shadow, his Mr. Wednesday barely shows any movement when he’s supposed to be charming or menacing.
American Gods: Shadows makes me wonder what audience Dark Horse is looking for with this adaptation. Are they trying to attract the die hard Neil Gaiman fans that buy everything he writes, or are they trying to appeal to people who might want to check out the story before the show airs? Either way, this approach isn’t the best, as it ruins the main aspect of the story to new readers, and runs the risk of being too boring for those that have read it before. If you’ve never read the original story before, you’re honestly better off just picking up the novel.
The Amazing Spider-Man #25 (Marvel Comics)
Now that Clone Conspiracy has wrapped up, you’d probably think that Dan Slott would want to let Peter Parker take a little breather. Well, you’re wrong, as Amazing Spider-Man #25 features not only the start of a new, Norman Osborn-focused story line, but also features Stuart Immonen on art duties. Knowing that Immonen and Osborn is a big draw, the House of Ideas has decided to make this issue double sized, and cost you TEN BUCKS. But even with all of the extra bonus stories tacked on, is this new issue of Spidey worth the cash?
Surprisingly, yes. While a $10 price tag is nothing to take lightly, the main story here is full of a ton of awesome moments. After learning that Norman Osborn is back and operating in South America, Spider-Man and Mockingbird decide to take him down. However, Osborn has become harder to pin down, thanks to experimental plastic surgery that allows him to change his appearance at any moment, and use different decoys around the world. When the South American gang lord ends up being one of the decoys, Spidey and Mockingbird head to China to follow another Osborn lead.
Espionage is a surprisingly good fit for Spider-Man, and while I haven’t been the biggest fan of this new “Tony Stark” take on Spider-Man, it really works with this issue. Dan Slott keeps the action and momentum going from page one, and the use of Osborn and his decoys is really interesting. Not only that, but the pairing of Spidey and Mockingbird is really entertaining, and Slott playing up the idea of a possible Spidey/Mockingbird romance is something that I really hope plays out in future issues.
Much has been made about Stuart Immonen’s arrival on this title, and it definitely lives up to the hype. Immonen’s long been a favorite of mine, and seeing his art style on Spider-Man, especially in one with this much action, is really awesome. While some of his pages look a little rushed at times, the action sequences are so well done that it doesn’t even matter.
There’s a ton of extra back up stories in Amazing Spider-Man #25, and all of them are pretty skippable, except for one. I won’t spoil it here, but suffice to say I am VERY interested in where this revelation will go, and how it will impact Spidey and his core group of characters once this storyline wraps up (and how it will play into Secret Empire as well). While dropping a Hamilton on one single comic is a pretty tough pill to swallow, if you’re a big Spidey fan, it’s worth it.