Norse Mythology #1 Review: Brilliant Artists Brighten an Odd Approach to Adaptation

At long last Nail Gaiman's Norse Mythology receives a comics adaptation, following the likes of his American Gods. Not only is Gaiman's Norse Mythology novel an adaptation of classic Nordic tales itself, but we're now in a peculiar Inception-like scenario where the property has been adapted from itself time and time again. Luckily enough for those who show even the slightest interest in the property, Gaiman and Dark Horse recruited an all-star line-up to help tell the three short stories involved in Norse Mythology #1, names like Mike Mignola, P. Craig Russell, and Jerry Ordway which carry enough clout to sell thousands of units on their own, quality of content be damned.

In fact, that's probably the strongest selling point for this entire project. We've all heard the story of Yggdrasil before, right? It provides life to the Nine Realms and ends up being the resting place for Odin as he hangs himself from its branches, but that's beside the point. When you get Russell, Mignola, and Ordway to illustrate anything for your comic, you've already attracted a massive audience... and that's without considering Gaiman's massive fandom.

yggdrasil norse mythology
(Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

The issue opens with "Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds," a crash course in, believe it or not, Norse mythology. In fact, it reads as a 101 course and sequential art is the perfect way to lay out what amounts to be a six-page exposition dump as Gaiman and team explain the worlds involved therein. If you're new to the property or specific section of historic literature—or, ahem, have yet to watch any Thor films—it's the perfect story to get things started. You find what the Tree of Life is. You get a glimpse of Odin, Frost Giants, Light Elves, Dwarfs, and the like.

odins eye norse mythology
(Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

Then there's "Mimir's Head and Odin's Eye," the story of how Odin came to have one eye and the sacrifice it required for him to gain the knowledge he possesses. Again, one of the earliest Norse tales one will read in any mythology books of the kind. Only here, readers are treated to the lovely artwork of one Mike Mignola. The legendary team of Mignola and colorist Dave Stewart team up once again for the best story in the issue, largely because their styles are built for the lore unfolding here.

Last is "The Treasures of the Gods," the first indication all issue of the need to invest yourself in more than one issue of the book. By the end of this short story, it's apparent it's something that will be told over multiple issues—may be the saving grace in getting people to return issue after issue. Like the two artists prior, it's hard to get a bigger name in comics than Jerry Ordway whose classic style excels in this Loki-centric story.

loki norse mythology
(Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

At the end of the day, I'm still left scratching my head as I wonder why Dark Horse chose to release this as on ongoing series as opposed to a collected edition or a series of over-sized library editions. The ongoing format where snippets are released once a month isn't necessarily a super-strong selling point for this title which, in and of itself, is already a tough sell the way it is. While the names attached to Norse Mythology are some of the biggest in the history of American comics, a monthly comic book probably isn't the best way to frame these stories.

Published by Dark Horse Comics

On October 7, 2020

Story and Words by Neil Gaiman

Script and Layouts by P. Craig Russell

Art by P. Craig Russell, Mike Mignola, and Jerry Ordway

Colors by Lovern Kindzierski and Dave Stewart

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Letters by Galen Showman

Cover by P. Craig Russell with Lovern Kindzierski