Review: ‘Norse Mythology’ #1, An Illustrated Primer In North Germanic Paganism

by Brendan M. Allen

Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell breathe new life into the ancient Norse stories by taking readers through the creation of the Nine Worlds to the epic origin and adventures of Thor, Odin, and Loki all the way to the end of life–Ragnarok.

Having previously written about deities in American Gods and The Sandman, Gaiman teams with Russell to finally bring readers to follow the northern gods in their own setting in this comic book adaptation of the hit novel!

Norse Mythology #1 is a collection of two Norse myths, and the start of a third, adapted by P. Craig Russell from Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name. There’s ‘Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds‘, also drawn by Russell, ‘Mimir’s Head and Odin’s Eye‘, featuring art by the legendary Mike Mignola, and the first part of ‘The Treasures of the Gods’, illustrated by Jerry Ordway.

This is a very straightforward book. Exactly as advertised. Most folks have at least a decent grasp of Greek and Roman mythology, but there aren’t very many who can say the same for the Norse stories, beyond what they’ve seen in Marvel stories.

The first story, Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds, is in there because we need the context of the Norse creation myth to inform the rest of the series. Six straight pages of exposition and pictures with no dialogue whatsoever. There is a shit-stirring squirrel, who picks fights between a corpse eating dragon and an angry omniscient eagle, so there is that.  

Of the three stories in this opening salvo, the art in this one in is the least enjoyable. The linework is fine. There just isn’t any texture. That may have been intentional. It just reminds me of the pictures in an illustrated children’s bible.

There just isn’t any comparison to the stylized gothic art by Mike Mignola in the second offering, ‘Mimir’s Head and Odin’s Eye‘.

The third and final story, ‘The Treasure of the Gods’, contains probably the most relatable dynamic. Popular literary and cinema representations of Thor and Loki are at least based on the original stories, so while this is a tale I’ve never personally read, it tracks. Jerry Ordway’s art is also the most realistic, taking that stripped down style of the Yggdrasil story and filling it out with depth and dimension. 

I don’t know what I was expecting with Norse Mythology #1, and it’s probably better that I didn’t have any expectations going in. If you’re looking for American Gods or Anansi Boys, you’ll be sorely disappointed. However, if you loved those other Gaiman books, and want a deeper understanding of character motivation and personal histories that lead into those other books, here you go.

Norse Mythology #1, Dark Horse Comics, 07 October 2020. Story and words by Neil Gaiman, script and layouts by P. Craig Russell, letters by Galen Showman. Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds art by P. Craig Russell, color by Lovern Kindzierski. Mimir’s Head and Odin’s Eye art by Mike Mignola, color by Dave Stewart. The Treasures of the Gods art by Jerry Ordway, color by Kindzierski.

Summary

Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell breathe new life into the ancient Norse stories by taking readers through the creation of the Nine Worlds to the epic origin and adventures of Thor, Odin, and Loki all the way to the end of life – Ragnarok.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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