We all make choices in life, whether they be about important issues, such as whether or not to stay in school (I left after my first year of college — idiot), or trivial ones, like going with either Arby’s or Horsey Sauce on my Beef N’ Cheddar (I typically do Horsey, though sometimes both). Somewhat middling on the above-given scale is picking what authors to read, and while I’ve followed several over the years, I’ve never delved into the work of Neil Gaiman.
I first heard of Gaiman’s Sandman series in the ’90s and even the involvement of my all-time favorite illustrator wasn’t enough to get me into it:
Afterward, his name popped up several times amid films I had either seen or planned to see, such as Robert Zemeckis’ uncanny valley take on Beowulf, or Henry Selick’s wonderful Coraline, based on Gaiman’s original book. You’d think all of the above would be enough to cement me as a prospective Gaiman fan, but — due more to sheer laziness than any prejudice — I just never picked any of his stuff up.
Fast-forward nearly twenty years later, and I am beginning to have misgivings. American Gods, the new series on Starz based on Gaiman’s 2001 novel, has me by its talons from the get-go. Equal parts mythologically rich and batshit crazy, I cannot wait to see what happens next.
To those unfamiliar, American Gods is Gaiman’s tale of those immigrant faiths that were thrust onto the New World over its history. The resultant icons of these faiths, the aforementioned gods, find themselves trapped between the dwindling devotion of passing generations and the rising cults of desire, such as technology. Chief among these ancient deities is Mr. Wednesday, known to most who are up on their Elder Edda as Wotan or Odin, lord of the Æsir. With such kingly realms apparently out of reach, and in desperate straits with his current environs, he does what he knows best, and prepares to go to war.
Thrown headlong into this imminent conflict is one Shadow Moon, a recent parolee who finds his life outside institutional walls to be nothing less than a catastrophe, making him a ready mark for Wednesday’s ensuing campaign. A new and surreal landscape is thus opened up to him, one filled with the former and budding rulers of the multiverse now reverted to masquerading amid the common mortals, desperate to garner whatever power and influence they can.
At the helm of the new series, along with Gaiman himself as executive producer, are Bryan Fuller, who formerly ran the magnificent (albeit short-lived) NBC series Hannibal, and Michael Green, who helped write the screenplay for the equally magnificent James Mangold film Logan (as well as credits for the upcoming Alien: Covenant and Blade Runner 2049, both of which will surely be mentioned here soon). Needless to say, this is a series with an embarrassment of talent, which not only has a clear assessment of the subject matter, but the collective cojones to deliver it to an eager audience. Count me among the eager, I am already counting the days until episode two.