Mr. Wednesday has the air of a creepy businessman. It is hard to tell whether he is good or bad, because while he acts pleasant, he also seems manipulative. Wednesday is filled with mystery, and inexplicable things seem to be popping up when he is around. He’s not a miracle-wielding god, but he definitely has power and influence, especially when he reveals his all-knowing abilities. We don’t know exactly what he wants Shadow to do for him, but by stating that the job requirements involved investigating for him and possibly hurting people, it seems Wednesday is involved in some shady business.
Far more creepy though, is Mad Sweeney, who looks pretty trashy but turns out to be skilled in coin tricks. He is also a bit of a temperamental hothead. He is a character I don’t care for too much, as he just seems eager to start a fight and cause trouble. But he does add some slightly comical amusement, especially in his choice of clothing.
Shadow negotiates terms with Wednesday, but I don’t know how much free will he actually has. Manipulation is ongoing in this issue, from Mad Sweeney’s coin trick to Wednesday paying the gas station attendant. Shadow, the released convict, ironically seems the least manipulative of the characters so far. But there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding his character.
Everything in this issue works together to create an ominous mood. The weather and the sky especially make for a dreary, mysterious atmosphere. This is very fitting for the funeral, but it also reflects the dark, mysterious nature of the plot so far and the uncertainty of which characters are trustworthy. A storm is not only brewing in the clouds; the gods are up to something, and Shadow is now somehow wrapped up in it all.
In addition to his representation of the weather, Scott Hampton’s art overall continues to reflect the tension and mystery of the story. He uses shadows and darkness effectively to set the mood and heighten the intensity. I love the silhouette of Mr. Wednesday’s face when he tells Shadow his job responsibilities. It is so powerful and severe—Shadow has no choice but to follow him. The three covers by Glenn Fabry with Adam Brown, David Mack, and Bill Sienkiewicz also reflect the uncertainty and seriousness of the plot. Sienkiewicz is brilliant with his use of light and dark, creating a reverse silhouette and his contrast between a polished figure and the chaos above.
Issue #2 continues to successfully adapt Neil Gaiman’s brilliant epic. P. Craig Russell highlights some of the most powerful moments and nicely paces the progression of the plot. With a shocking cliffhanger that leaves us waiting in suspense for issue #3, American Gods: Shadows works brilliantly as a comics series.