Do you wonder where poetry comes from? Do you ever ask yourself how it is that some people can dream great, wise, beautiful dreams and pass those dreams on as poetry to the world?
What do you get when you blend the exceptionally entertaining storytelling of Neil Gaiman, Eisner winner P. Craig Russell, and Norse gods? Norse Mythology II, the returning comic book series published by Dark Horse Comics and available this week.
Norse Mythology II is the second series in which Russell teams up with a powerhouse of talent in the comic book world to adapt Gaiman’s adaptation (titled Norse Mythology and a bestseller in 2017). Gaiman’s book and this comic book title focus on the origin of the Nine Worlds and the adventures of Norse gods that have become household words thanks to Gaiman with a little help from the Thor films, the Vikings TV series, and, most recently, the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla video game.
“The Mead of Poets” is the opening story of Norse Mythology II, and it is a two-part tale about Kvasir, a wise god born from the saliva collected as a symbol of the peace pact made between two groups of gods, Aesir and Vanir. Kvasir travels the worlds and meets his demise at the hands of two dwarfs, which sets off an intriguing chain of events. The original story of Kvasir was written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century.
Russell’s adaptation channels Norse Mythology 101 – giving readers the high-level narrative beats, but with enough detail to be engaging and entertaining. The story is fast-paced, making the issue a quick read, but leaving the reader anxious for the second part of the story. (Issue #2 will drop on July 14.) Like the text, Matt Horack’s illustrations and Galen Showman’s lettering have a straight-forward simplicity punctuated with pastel highlights that soften and create depth. Add Lovern Kindzierski’s muted palette of grey and purples with bursts of vibrant colors, and this is a style that lends itself well to the story being told.
Adaptations of old texts are a great introductory technique. Like history, there are lessons to be learned and heeded. I think that Norse Mythology II is a testament to the power of classical tales, be it Norse, Egyptian, Japanese, or any of the many others that have relevance today. And I do believe that if an adaptation leads readers to seek out the original text, or a translation with helpful footnotes, then the adaptation has completed one of its goals.
While I haven’t gotten into reading any Norse origin stories, this series is an appreciative introduction which does not require prior reading of Norse Mythology I. (Volume 1 TPB is in print in case you want to read it first.) This series will likely draw fans from several camps: epic fantasy tales, Norse mythology, the Thor films, and, of course, Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell. Norse Mythology II is scheduled for a six-issue run (See Comics Beat Dean Simons’ March 2021 article for series details.) and promises to a continuing popular title.
Creative Team: Neil Gaiman (story/words); P. Craig Russell (script/layouts/cover); Galen Showman (letters/cover); Matt Horak (art); Lovern Kindzierski (colors); and David Mack (variant cover)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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