Review: Norse Mythology #4
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell
Artist: Piotr Kowalski, David Rubin
Colors: Lovern Kindzierski
Letters: Galen Showman
Reviewed by: Seth Singleton
Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology #4 continues the story of Loki’s deal with the mysterious builder. The wall is growing faster than anyone could ever imagine possible. However, if the stranger completes his task on schedule he gets the sun, the moon, and Odin’s wife Freya.
Positives — Odin’s Wager
Loki’s trickery is on full display. Interestingly, it is a theme that sustains two stories. The first scenario reminds the reader of Loki’s shape-shifting ability. The trickster transforms into a chestnut mare. Which allows Loki to seduce the builder’s horse Svadilfari and lure him into the woods. Loki does not return from the woods for one year after that escapade.
The builder struggles to complete the job without his companion. Asgardians smell blood in the water and quickly swarm. Soon Freya pokes fun at the builder. When the builder loses his temper he threatens to take his prize. Then he accuses the Asgardians of cheating.
Then Odin reveals that the builder is a giant. This secret was meant to deceive the Asgardians. The mountain giant is no longer welcome.
The giant becomes angry. Suddenly Thor arrives. One blow from mighty Mjolnir and the builder is no longer a problem. The Asgardians finish the wall but it is noted that it is not as well finished as the builder’s handiwork.
Positives — Loki’s Children
Loki’s eventual reappearance among the Asgardians includes a new addition. Sleipnir is a beautiful eight-legged horse created when the trickster god’s seduction of Svadilfari worked too well. The coupling that ensued results in the siring of the rare colt. It’s a sore subject with Loki and one that the Asgardians learn not to bring up in his presence.
Loki’s children are the subject of the next story. The trickster’s libido is not sated by his first marriage. Odin tells his son that there are three children that Loki has fathered in Jotunheim.
A quest to bring the children home reveals how much Loki has had a hand in creating many of the fantastical creatures of the nine realms. Jormundgundor is a snake that Odin releases into the ocean. It eventually grows to encircle the earth and becomes known as the Midgard serpent.
The second is a child named Hel. Odin remembers her from a dream.
Loki’s third child is a mystery. In this case, even its name is unrevealed. It looks like a wolf cub or a fox.
Fans of mythology might already recognize the third child. It raises the question if revealing the name would have added to the suspense. Or made it too easy for readers to find the answers on their own?
Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell continue weaving a gorgeous tapestry in Norse Mythology #4. Readers who have experienced these stories in one form will delight in the illustrations rendered by Piotr Kowalski and David Rubin. Lovern Kindzierski’s colors are muted in the sunset and glowing in the daylight. The hues are measured and deliberate.
The collaboration of art and narrative create an emotional landscape that feels regal. The dialogue intones the personality and humor that is not always recorded in myths. The combination is a topographical expedition that illuminates the layers of every new character, creature, and discovery.