This will not be as “fanboy-squee” as my review for issue #1.
American Gods #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
Now, before everyone gets up in arms and pulls out the pitchforks, this is not a bad issue. Far from it. This is a plot issue – with a lot of talking, some drinking, some fighting, and then a lot more talking.
In the novel, this happens fast. Overall, probably a chapter and a half – a quick read if you picture it, far slower if you’re drawing it – and I think this issue does two things – one well, and one badly.
The thing it does well? It keeps you interested. I’ve reviewed many a comic book for this old site by now and I have the uncanny ability to pick the “rest and recovery and un-powered basketball game” issue like no one’s business. This is not that.
There is a ton of information to be gleaned here – why Shadow will accept a job from Wednesday, some painful discoveries about his wife, his friends, and his life. There’s a fight with a leprechaun, who seems to be ten feet tall. All of this is good, and the issue gets a 7.5/10 for me for that alone. This story is compelling and well woven, so any depiction of it scores well.
What this issue doesn’t do well, is hide the fact that they are doing a scene for scene remake, like Snyder did with Watchmen. I understand why they did it – the amount of bullshit they’d catch if they shortened Gaiman’s tale or cut a specific section for brevity? Intense.
Still, this is very much a “tell don’t show” issue and it highlights how difficult it is to adapt from a “picture this in your mind movie screen” book into a “let me draw this whole thing for you” comic. We don’t have to read that Shadow “furrowed his brow” as we can see it – but the dialogue is all still there, and Gaiman loves him some dialogue.
This is going to be a balancing act. Peeking forward in the future I can already picture two other sections of the novel where the action slows down a bit, everyone catches their breath, and there’s a great deal of dialogue in one location for a long time. Issue #3’s teaser even shows us the next great (and super creepy) conversation that’s impending – and that ought to be an entire issue.
I guess what I’m saying is: this is going to be a great series because the story is great. The art does what it needs to do, even though it’s even messier here than it was in issue #1 and is less compelling – but there’s some hard choices coming up as to what to skim through, and I don’t know if the creators have the balls to take scissors to Gaiman’s brain.