AMERICAN GODS: THE MOMENT OF THE STORM #3
As Shadow pays vigil he receives several mind bending visitations that he cannot fathom, and while facing the painful past he has buried gains the knowledge of exactly who he really is as well as his mothers own memory of the man who is his father, which he realises was no real surprise after all. And in discovering the identity he also realises his place in the whole situation at last.
Due to the fractured and dreamlike nature of the events of Shadows vigil this was the part of the story that always caused me the most discombobulation in the novel. But thanks to P. Craig Russell’s adaptation these elements are now much clearer. There are so many conflicting elements and visitors that the final revelation is almost lost in the cacophony, as they all offer different hints and viewpoints of the ongoing saga and it isn’t immediately clear as to their relevance in the final outcome. But there it is as bright as day right as Shadow nears the end of his vigil. But as each visitor arrives and departs in this confusing litany of visuals it’s not the constant interruptions that is important here, or even whether they are real or imagined in his state of delirium. It is the realisation that he, and by extension we, had the answers all along.
Even so everything he sees and experiences while clinging tenuously to life is an important part of the journey, which Scott Hampton depicts perfectly. From the crisp detail of the diminutive Ratatosk and Horus devouring the rabbit, to the imagery of Shadows journey to his other vigil at the bedside of his mother and the garden where he hands back the coin to finally be rewarded with the truth, every element is shown with attention to detail where necessary, while using broader strokes in the wider arena.
From the distinctly dreamlike surroundings as he travels to his inevitable fate, to the inner workings of Shadow’s mind as he sifts through the many images that make up his thought process there is surrealism set alongside the more mundane. It all lends substance to the feeling of someone’s life literally flashing before their eyes as they die, which helps cement the connection to him at last.
Whereas before he was shown to be just a witness and bystander, someone who is just along for the ride, now he is the linchpin of the narrative and the gods themselves are finally just bit players in his story. And the visuals throughout play an important part in connecting us to Shadow and his sacrifice. As each visitor talks to him he is armed with the clues that inform him of his heritage and also reminded that there is a battle being prepared as he holds vigil.
The conversations with Horus and Laura and the other visitations are all relevant and whether or not they are real is of little importance. It is what they signpost Shadow toward that is the key. Avoiding the past has played a part in his journey and yet it brings him crashing back to what he feared the most. But in remembering his mother and her passing he has the epiphany we all share in and the answer as to his true heritage. Which sheds light on his purpose in the whole story at last. As he travels through his mind we can see the thought process feeding him the information he needs as he is dragged to the resolution and answer that has evaded him all his life.
Not only does the art convey the journey with the trippy visuals of Ratatosk or Horus, or the passing of the coin that becomes his light to the resolution, but also the hospital scene and its sombre palette and the earthy tones of Shadows place of reflection on the World Tree as night follows day. And so it’s also thanks to Jennifer T. Lang, who not only helps set the mood within these key visuals, but also lends us a connection on a more basic level, thanks to the imagery of the bright coloured spots dancing across his vision as he becomes delirious and the pounding headache as dehydration sets in.
Alongside the kaleidoscope of more fantastical images that also take shape in this dream state these basic visuals bring home the ordeal he is going through. And the dream state itself becomes tangible and believable, which gives meaning to the whole experience. Rather than just being the hallucinations of a dying man, they ground the story in a very real way alongside the prose. Much as Yggdrasil has its roots firmly in the real world so do the places in Shadow’s mind. A confusing litany of images and conversation that give breadcrumbs of clues in the darkness. And both Glenn Fabry and Adam Brown convey each element of the narrative to perfection, tying them together and staging them on the cover and conveyed in true Fabry style.
A Vision Quest that leads us to the next important stage in the story, as well as giving a key piece of knowledge to inform the whole purpose of the existence of Shadow.
American Gods: The Moment of the Storm #3 What’s In A Name
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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