I must say that, after reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, I found that I didn’t totally love it. It didn’t leave me as bursting with excitement about the upcoming TV adaptation as I had hoped. However, I decided to check out the trailer anyway, and it actually got me pretty pumped for the show!
I’m not generally a fan of horror, and while Neil Gaiman perhaps isn’t specifically writing horror, his fantastical worlds are often quite scary. However, I love literary explorations of mythology, faith, life, and death, and most of his writing, from The Sandman to The Graveyard Book, deals with these themes in one way or another. As such, I’ve been meaning to read American Gods for a rather long time. With the TV adaptation of this book fast approaching, I finally picked it up. Gaiman succeeds, as always, at setting the perfect atmosphere and at creating mysterious characters. However, although I love the exploration of mythological and religious themes, there are also a couple of things that prevented me from completely falling in love with this book. I will delve into all of it below.
Spoilers for American Gods (the author’s preferred text version) to follow.
Most religious people believe in a god or gods that exist independently of humans, and that do not need anything in particular from humans in order to keep on existing. Some people believe their god or gods predate the existence of sentient life, or even of the universe itself. Neil Gaiman likes to play around with this idea of belief in deities. In particular, in his comic series The Sandman and in his book American Gods, he posits a surprising (to people of faith) scenario: what if gods exist only because people believe in them?
This has some fascinating implications for human (and, in Sandman, other sentient being) agency. It essentially grants superhuman strength to human belief, empowering us to control our own destinies. On the other hand, this premise also opens a whole bunch of cans of worms. It directly contradicts many faiths’ theology and causes issues with causality. Perhaps most chillingly, however, it introduces a degree of moral relativism that could (and in the stories, does) lead to unjust consequences.
Mild spoilers for the Sandman series and American Gods below.
When The Sleeper and the Spindle was first announced, I was excited. A gorgeously illustrated fairy tale retelling by Neil Gaiman, featuring Snow White as the warrior who saves Sleeping Beauty from her tower? Sign me up! It only just came out in the US last week, and I snapped it up when I saw it in my comic book shop. However, while the story is excellently told, and the pictures are beautifully drawn, it left me with mixed feelings in the end.
At long last, after a five-month wait (they’re certainly taking their time with this series), The Sandman: Overture #5 has arrived! Despite this being the penultimate issue in this six-part prequel, this issue again brings up more questions than it answers (Author Neil Gaiman really needs to stop doing that. He’s running out of time!). We—Syng and Mikely—are reviewing it jointly again. Join us for spoilers, summary, and analysis after the break, as we delve into darkness with Dream!
Syng: Merry Christmas! Guess what present Neil Gaiman and Co. got for us? Overture #4! And even though its release was delayed by a couple months, we don’t mind one bit. This time, Neil Gaiman (with art by J.H. Williams III and coloring by Dave Stewart) takes us on a journey to the stars and beyond the bounds of time. Spoilers in our summary and review below!
Dream keeps telling me to shut up about him, but I refuse!
See, I told you I was going to keep talking about Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic series! Today I’m going to discuss three ways in which the series subverts the expectations of readers familiar with Christian lore. These tropes are the Mystical Pregnancy, the Death of the Son of God, and God Dying for Our Sins. I think these departures from Christian canon are ultimately more “human”—more relatable and thus, perhaps, more believable.
When I first started writing for Lady Geek Girl and Friends, I never thought I would join the ranks of our other lovely comic book reviewers. You see, I had never really gotten into American comics before; I prefer the aesthetic of manga. Well, that all changed on Free Comic Book Day this year, when my local comic shop lured me in with the promise of free comics, but convinced me to actually spend money too (which I suppose is the whole point of the day). I had heard that Sandman was a really great comic series written by Neil Gaiman, a writer I respect, so when I saw the first two issues of a Sandman prequel series there, I thought it would be a great place to dive into the saga.
The Sandman: Overture is a planned six-issue prequel series that tells the tale of the “triumph of a sort” that weakened our main character Dream so much that he was able to be imprisoned by mere mortals at the beginning of the first Sandman volume. Gaiman as writer is ingenious as always, and J.H. Williams III’s artwork is gorgeous, but let me warn you now: it turns out this is not one of those prequels that you can read before the original work. It’s not just that you’ll have trouble understanding what’s going on; the prequel actually contains spoilers for the end of the original series. But if you’ve read the original series and want answers to some questions (and don’t mind the raising of some new questions!), then Overture should be super intriguing to you. Find out more in my spoilerific review of Issues 1–3 below!
Before Gail Simone wrote Alysia Yeoh as the first trans character in mainstream DC Comics, Neil Gaiman briefly introduced another trans character in the Sandman story A Game of You. Trans woman Wanda Mann is arguably one of the first trans characters in comic books, and, while I utterly love her character, the wayshe is portrayed is definitely extremely problematic. However, this is not meant to be a post discussing Wanda’s overall portrayal as a trans character. Instead, what I want to focus on is the exchange between Wanda and the witch Thessaly, and how their interactions relate tothe current issues that trans people face within the Wicca and Pagan communities.