Subway Shorts – Gods and Queens

Classic lore and modern novels get the comic book treatment this time around, as the second issues of The Once and Future Queen and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods get a look.

Gods talking

American Gods: Shadows 2
Written by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell
Art by P. Craig Russell and Scott Hampton 

There is something infinitely special about a comic book with Neil Gaiman’s name on it. Reading through the second issue on the subway ride home last night, I had this intense feeling of deja vu, like I’d read it all before. Obviously, I have. I’ve read American Gods a few times already, but this was different last night.

In the second issue of the adaptation, Gaiman, Russell and Hampton crafted a story that felt like what I had always imagined these scenes would look like in my head. It’s been a while since the last time I read the book, but as I flipped through the second issue, it felt like the story and the art was flowing from my memories and onto the iPad screen. Like I had always known it to be this way, only not. I guess it shouldn’t be much of a surprise for artists who have a connection to Morpheus, after all.

Much like Gaiman’s prose novel, the story is engaging, and it has the added bonus of beautiful, expressive art from Russell and Hampton. The adventure Shadow is embarking on with Mr. Wednesday, the fight with the leprechaun and the conflicted emotions Shadow feels at his wife’s death are expertly scripted and beautifully drawn.

Gods Funeral

I almost wish this was released as a graphic novel, detailing the whole story, instead of in monthly chapters, so I could devour the whole story in one sitting and not wait four weeks for a new chapter.

The Once and Future Queen 2
Written by Adam P. Knave and DJ Kirkbride
Art by Nick Brokenshire

The second issue of the updated Arthurian legend really sets the chess pieces up for what is to come, giving hints to the lore for everyone who knows it – and really, how many people are out there who don’t know the story of King Arthur? There’s a lot of subtle focus here on the potential love triangle between Rani, Gwen and Lance. As the trio fights off the evil Fae, with the help of Merlin – still dressed in a spacesuit – they come together as a unit. And that teamwork allows Rani to bestow weapons to her compatriots to help in the battle.

I’m not sure if it was intentional – probably not – but Merlin in the spacesuit really reminds me of Col. Weird in Black Hammer, from the character’s visual design to the flightiness he seems to exude. It works well within the realm of the story, and having him explaining everything to the new Knights of the Round Table and Rani’s parents was a fun experience.

Queen exposition

Speaking of Rani’s parents, I really enjoy the way that Knave and Kirkbride handle them. They could have easily gone with a very typical “hide the craziness from the father and mother” route here, but letting them in on the secret – and letting them react as normal parents would – adds a lot to the story.