Erica McCrystal, Fanbase Press Contributor

Erica McCrystal, Fanbase Press Contributor

American Gods: Shadows #8 continues to encourage us to think about American land and the land’s relationship with people. By providing some history of settlement in America, the series asks how our history contributes to how we identify as American today. And then, of course, there’s the mythos factor that shapes the American identity, as well.

When Paul Dini and Bruce Timm created Harley Quinn for Batman: The Animated Series, she was a sidekick - a laughable, lovable jester with an awesome voice. She was a minion to the Joker but much more entertaining than any of his thugs. With the release of "Mad Love," her character acquired depth through her backstory, her ability to love, her motivations, and her desires. She is a powerful manipulator while simultaneously a victim of domestic violence. Because the Joker successfully turns her toward villainy, and because her love is nauseatingly strong, it would seem that the Joker has Harley completely under his control; however, in The New 52’s Harley Quinn series, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti allow Harley to break free from her Puddin’, giving her autonomy and new motivations. As an independent woman, Harley adopts multiple roles, depending on her needs or current passionate impulses.

The following is an interview with actor Joe Macaulay on his role in the film, Native. In this interview, Fanbase Press Contributor Erica McCrystal chats with Macaulay about his creative inspiration, his role in the upcoming sci-fi film, his experiences in a variety of entertainment mediums, and more!

Issue #7 opens with a beautifully eerie, noir moment of headlights gradually approaching through the darkness. The brightness pops out of the dark surroundings but still distorts our ability to see anything clearly. Neil Gaiman is a narrative master of distorting fantasy and reality (The main character’s name is Shadow, after all.), and Scott Hampton’s illustrations perfectly capture that technique. In this series, we never really know whether we can trust what we see, especially with the frequent re-occurrence of magical illusions, ghosts, and gods.

The presence of mystical elements really shines in Issue #6, and the discussion about gods in America makes us think about the relationship that gods have with man and with the land. The gods have essentially immigrated to America and taken root in the land. They are outsiders but work to be productive on American soil. I’ve never thought of gods as national before. Wednesday’s discussion about the gods makes them seem more human than celestial, which creates some potential vulnerability. It also makes the gods seem more real and regular. They are like us, so perhaps we can understand them better.

Time for a vampire showdown. All of the plotting, secret meetings, and questioning of loyalties culminates in the final installment of Anno Dracula. The plot has been building to this moment, and we’ve been anxiously awaiting Dracula’s arrival. But along the way, the other characters have made for such an exciting and enjoyable adventure. Though it has existed on the backdrop, we have felt Dracula’s presence throughout the series while the other characters have driven the action. Kim Newman has created powerful, clever, and amusing personages of Victorian London. And each one is always ready for a fight.

The covers. The covers. The covers. I have to start here, because they continue to impress me profoundly. Glenn Fabry’s cover is an exquisite work of art, blending fantasy and reality to create a nightmarish kaleidoscope of a carousel ride. David Mack’s variant brilliantly hides a silhouette amid the main focus of the cover, demonstrating his mastery at subtlety and blending images. Even though they are drastically different, both covers capture the atmosphere and mood of the series—the mysterious darkness of the Gothic epic journey—and effectively contribute to deep impressions that the myth aims to provide.  

In Ten Dead Comedians, Fred Van Lente puts a twenty-first century comedic spin on Agatha Christie’s classic mystery, And Then There Were None. Van Lente’s plot and language are clever and witty throughout the pages, as the comedians get killed off one by one on a deserted island. The characters are brilliantly developed throughout each chapter. They include a variety of different types of comedians—from a podcaster to a late night host. Van Lente does a great job highlighting and maintaining each character’s original style. There are really reminiscent of current, real-life comedians (though I don’t know about Oliver Rees…). The characters aren’t particularly fond of one another, which brings about frequent comedic banter. And they each have their own individual vices, making their deaths perhaps less tragic.

The latest installment of Kim Newman and Paul McCaffrey’s Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem brings a lot of action and excitement to the Tower of London. McCaffrey’s cover is a stunning juxtaposition of refined beauty and a creepy x-ray—which is very fitting for the atmosphere of this series. The variant covers are great, too. Martin Stiff’s is simple but eerie, as a skull appears to emerge out of the Tower. Tom Mandrake’s cover nicely captures the action of this issue and creates a heroic scene with the heroines ready to battle a horde of crazed vampires.

Each issue of the American Gods: Shadows series so far has provided absolutely brilliant covers. I greatly look forward to the artistic interpretation that jumps out and begs readers to jump in. For issue #4, both covers are stellar. Glenn Fabry and Adam Brown’s cover is filled with mystical excitement. There is so much to look at—from the silly face on the moon to the gritty teeth on the car’s bumper. It feels like the characters are heading on an amusement park ride but into someplace dark and gothic and intense. David Mack also continues to impress with his cover. I can imagine a whole wall of framed Mack American Gods covers. They are exquisite works of art. This one looks like decoupage meets pastels to create a perfectly beautiful silhouette. It is stunning.

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