Chuck Palahniuk is one of the most brilliant and prolific writers of this era, with several major novels to his name and some of the most thought-provoking and occasionally terrifying stories that have been written. While it's not my favorite of his novels, Palahniuk will likely always be remembered for Fight Club, his opus about mental illness, chaos, and toxic masculinity, among other things. The film adaptation, despite being a bomb during its release, is a cult favorite, and Palahniuk's work, while controversial, has been more and more interesting as time has followed.
Nowhere, Kansas. Even the name sounds innocuous. A place you drive through without slowing and never think about again. The biggest problem is an occasional squabble at the local bar, and long-time resident and Sheriff Peter Holbrook likes it that way. In fact, the only thing that truly bothers him is his fear of the gray: the mysterious storms that plague Nowhere every year, blanketing the town in rain and fog.
Dave Stewart, colorist on Gideon Falls, is a talent to behold. Everything he touches takes on an otherworldly palette, a dreamlike temperature; there’s something hidden underneath the surface of everything he colors. A cursory look-up shows that he’s won nine Eisner Awards. He’s a rock star. His coloring tells a story; it draws back the curtain of a fake reality that comic books typically embrace and shows you something that is sometimes too real.
With legendary sword and scabbard in hand, Avalon departs the Guardian’s lake to continue her quest along with her new cohorts, Lancer, Trystan, and a reluctant Gawyn. Elsewhere, the Red Clan prepares for their duel with the White Monks, with the scheming Black Sun Templars behind the scenes. Despite Merlin’s many protests that the challenge is a trap, Lord Huss of the White Monks elects to engage the Red Clan, relying on the will of the gods and the long-established sacred laws to ensure his victory. En route to the White Monks, Avalon and company happen upon the immolated and crucified remains of the slavers. (See issue one.) Distraught by the scene, Avalon makes haste and finds the White Monk’s citadel surrounded. With the aid of Gawyn’s invisibility granting stealth pins, Avalon is able to make it to the citadel just in time to see the treachery of the Red Clan and the Black Sun Templars unfold.
In the second installment of American Gods: My Ainsel, Shadow takes a break from actively traveling through America. The modern epic myth seems less magical and, instead, like a day in real world, small-town America. But this issue still has a dreary atmosphere to it, where the climate continues to deteriorate as it leads us to some upcoming battle, a battle that could possibly be between man and god, weather and land, or life and death—or perhaps some contest between any of those.
Scott Larson’s Visitations #3: Mayhem at the Levee displays a slightly different storytelling style than his first two explorations into the ghostly history of Chicago. A mysterious woman known only as The Aviator receives a visitor who asks her to use the mysterious book, The True Annals of Chicago: The Victoria Era, to look into a tale from the city’s sordid past, when debauchery was confined to a region known as The Levee.
If Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) was the film to resurrect the sword and sandal genre back into mainstream limelight, then Zach Snyder’s 2006 adaptation of Frank Miller’s 1998 graphic novel, 300, was the genre’s follow-up boost of literal and figurative testosterone. With cheers of “This is Sparta!” entering the pop culture lexicon, interest in the original comic was rejuvenated while a mini-media empire was born; a video game, 300: March to Glory, was released on the PlayStation Portable, NECA released figurines of some of the film’s characters, and a sequel film, 300: Rise of an Empire, was released in 2014.
In a book in which things go south quickly all of the time, it's worth saying that things are headed in that direction with haste after the revelations of the last few issues. With everything happening and things coming to a head, true identities are revealed, intentions are dug up, and the gods we've spent so long with are truly reaching the final days of their two-year lifespan. Without giving away too much, Minerva's recent admissions are bringing out the worst in some of the gods, and Woden's antics are actually beginning to show some promise for the first time in quite awhile.