In 2017, maestro storyteller Neil Gaiman published Norse Mythology, a collection of stories about the Gods of Asgard retold in his unique voice. Now, like so many other Gaiman titles, Dark Horse has enlisted a pantheon of artistic luminaries to adapt Gaiman’s work into comic book form. The first of an eighteen part series, Norse Mythology #1 brings to life three tails of ancient mysticism and mischief.
The first story in the issue is “Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds,” featuring art by P. Craig Russell and colors by Lovern Kindzierski. It’s a genesis tale about Yggdrasil, the mighty and beautiful ash tree that connects the nine realms. The second story is “Mimir’s Head and Odin’s Eye,” with art by Mike Mignola and colors by Dave Stewart, wherein young Odin gains knowledge from Mimir’s Well. And the final story is “The Treasures of the Gods,” with art by Jerry Ordway and Kindzierski once again providing colors. Loki steals the hair from Sif’s head, enraging her husband Thor. The God of Thunder demands the trickster god restore Sif’s hair or he’ll break every bone in his body. The longest of the three stories, “The Treasures of the Gods” ends on a cliffhanger and continues in the next issue.
I’m an unabashed Neil Gaiman fan. During his book tour promoting Norse Mythology, I had the pleasure of attending one of his readings, where he read aloud several short stories including “The Treasures of the Gods.” It is a wonderfully humorous tale, made all the more engaging by the recitation of the author himself. And the signed copy of the anthology I purchased that night is one of my most prized literary possessions.
That being said, Norse Mythology is not my favorite Gaiman book. And this comic is not my favorite Gaiman adaptation, and those that have read the Eisner Award-winning Snow, Glass, Apples with art by Colleen Doran might possibly agree. In my opinion, Norse Mythology #1 ably captures the essence of the original stories, but unfortunately does not exceed them. The melodious prose of the book is replaced by illustrations that, while impressive and beautiful, are limited in scope. Gaiman’s original tales of Asgard are so expansive as to seem infinite, and as a result, are difficult for even the most skilled artist to render in comic book panels.
But Gabe, what about readers that don’t slavishly compare and contrast adaptations to their source material like you do? Well, there’s much for you to enjoy about Norse Mythology #1. All three stories contain Gaiman’s signature gravitas and charm. And the art in the first two segments, which act as an expositional gateway to the nine realms, is especially harmonious with the narrative. In “Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds,” Russell’s delicate and fluid line work establishes an enchanting and mystical world. And in “Mimir’s Head and Odin’s Eye,” Mignola’s simple, but expressive, forms and heavy blacks shrouds that same world in grim shadow.
Mignola’s illustrations are, in my opinion, the best part of this issue. His fastidious minimalism invites the reader to fill the panels with the mysterious potential and ominous danger inherent in Norse mythology. Future issues of the comic will feature a mix of other artists, but I look forward to any of Mignola’s future contributions.
Creative Team: Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell (writers) P. Craig Russell, Mike Mignola, Jerry Ordway (artists) Dave Stewart, Lovern Kindzierski (colors) Galen Showman (letters)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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