P. Craig Russell’s recreation of Neil Gaiman’s epic continues to be engaging, darkly comedic, and mysteriously gothic. The radiant Zorya Polunochinaya is introduced in this issue. She embodies mystical energy and displays a magical connection with the sky. She radiates beautifully out of the page, a beaming glow of whiteness shining out from the dark backdrops of this disturbing word. Scott Hampton nailed it with his artistic depiction of her character. To me, she seems to represent hope and positivity. In a romantically serene moment, she gives Shadow the gift of the moon as protection. Zorya is the second mysterious woman now who wants to protect Shadow. Clearly, the impending threats to his life must be pretty dangerous. Czernobog wins the opportunity to kill him, but this doesn’t even seem like a real threat. It is a rather comical play between the two men. This means there must be greater dangers lurking ahead.
Almost half of this issue is Colleen Doran’s “Coming to America,” the telling of Essie Tregowan’s story, narrated from an entry in 1721 of Mr. Ibis’ journal. Essie’s story occurs much earlier than this, as a case study of deportation during the time of American colonization. Mr. Ibis says that American history is fictional, so are we to assume that his story is fictional, as well? Essie’s tale certainly contains some fantasy, but it also reminds me greatly of Daniel Defoe’s 1722 novel, Moll Flanders. There is some overlap in plot, but the added element of the pixies in Mr. Ibis’ narration reminds us that we are in an America where mystical elements reign. This story, despite being about a criminal, is much lighter than Shadow’s tale. It does not contain the gothic mystery and uncertainty that we continue to experience in Shadow’s journeys. Through this tale, Mr. Ibis has established the active presence of magical creatures centuries ago.
This issue feels like it contains two different comics, but as the story progresses, I think we will see more direct correlations between the past and the present. At this point, both share an element of mystical storytelling that leaves us questioning reality and the driving forces behind the events of characters’ lives.