Review: Norse Mythology II #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Story and Words: Neil Gaiman
Script and Layouts: P. Craig Russell
Art and Colors: Matt Horak
Letters: Galen Showman
Reviewed by: Seth Singleton
Norse Mythology II #1 is a violent reminder that the fables told of the Aesir are not always lighthearted and mirthful. Instead, they are a reminder that beautiful creations do not always go through life unharmed. It begins with a cameo and the innocent question “Where does poetry come from?” and ends with a suggestion of how the gift was shared with the world.
In the beginning, Asgard was a divided land. Two cultures vied for control. Then they went to war. The problem was that the Aesir and the Vanir were too well matched.
In a show of diplomacy that real-world leaders could learn from, a truce was called. They sealed the agreement by spitting into a cauldron. Read that sentence as many times as necessary, then move on. It’s the right choice. The healthy choice.
A feast followed the truce. When it was time to depart, Freyja and her brother agreed to the suggestion that it would be a waste to leave the mingled spittle. Instead, they decided to make a man.
Kvasir was born of the best qualities of the Aesir and the Vanir. He gave them sound advice and shared his wisdom and benevolence without reserve. Soon, Kvasir chose to wander the Nine Realms. But not without the promise that he would return “when the nets need to be untangled” he tells Odin.
It is here that the story takes a darker turn. The trouble starts with a pair of greedy trolls who view Kvasir as a commodity and not a person. Then there is the discovery of the Mead of Poets. Soon after, follows a wave of carnage.
When Odin learns of a secret that his spying crows share with their king, he decides to take a journey. First, Odin disguises his identity and uses a false name. Then, he begins his own bloody campaign. The story sets up many events that build toward a conflagration. Readers will need to show a measure of patience until the story continues in the next issue.
The violence is stark. Not glamorous, but certainly unflinching.
Neil Gaiman captures a painful moment from Norse Mythology. It is in fact a sharp departure from the first volume. The six issues that preceded Norse Mythology II #1 were lighter in tone. The effect on the story was comical. Even the violence was amusing.
“The Mead of Poets” begins with the idea of where creativity comes from and reveals the warring nature of Asgard’s early history. Bloodshed opens the story. More death follows despite the peaceful actions of the united Asgardians. The best qualities of a mighty people are shared with all. And when greed and selfishness arise in opposition, conflict is sure to follow. The beauty of possibility is such that the war between the Aesir and the Vanir led to the peaceful creation of Kvasir and the bloody deeds in this issue could usher in a similar resolution.