Review: Norse Mythology II #2
[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
In Norse Mythology II #2, Odin is still disguised as Bolverkr to trick the Giants named Baugi and Suttung. But then Bolverkr learns that Suttung’s daughter is guarding the Mead of Poets and Odin hatches a new plan.
Positives — Slow Burn
Those readers who still feel the sting of betrayal that created the Mead of Poets will delight in the patient machinations of Odin. He sets a plan in motion, tirelessly works to make the impossible look easy, and then turns on a dime when everything goes awry. You can always judge a king by his actions.
Suttung’s refusal to share the Mead of Poets with Bolverkr despite the promise made by Baugi is telling for many reasons. It shows the lack of respect between the brothers. This is something that Odin is able to use to his advantage. Baugi’s embarrassment and humiliation motivate him to agree to Bolverkr’s plan to get the Mead of Poets. Opportunity is just around the corner.
Positives — Magic
Magic is used with great aplomb in this story. Odin gives Baugi a magic auger that grows to a height that is perfect for the giant. When Baugi seeks to betray Bolverkr, Odin’s magic transforms the Aesir king into a serpent. Odin then turns into a muscular Giant once he escapes Baugi.
But the magic does not stop there. In fact, after Odin seduces Suttung’s daughter Hnitbjorg he drinks the entire cauldron of the Mead of Poets and changes into an eagle. And then Suttung also becomes an eagle and gives chase.
Because the story is grounded in magic, Odin’s arrival is met by Asgardians who assemble a collection of vats that their king uses to spew the Mead of Poets into until each one is full. The bonus is when Suttung almost catches Odin and receives a wet fart created by the dregs of the Mead of Poets that soaks the hapless giant-turned-eagle into a disgusting mess. Yes. That is not a typo. Norse God farts on Giant. This kind of thing can’t be made up.
Fans of poetry will recognize the explanation that is given for when this form of expression is experienced in the here and now. It is the unpleasant result of poetry that is not authentic. No one wants that.
The extension of a perfect being’s essence through the Mead of Poets is nice, but still feels lacking. Mythology is often brutal and garish when compared to modern sensibilities. Readers must decide if the murder of Kvasir is balanced by the actions of Odin and the power and beauty of the Mead of Poets.
Part two of the Mead of Poets is a delightful form of revenge that softens the violent beginning of the story. Kvasir lives on in the Mead of Poets but it is a strange type of immortality that only he can judge to be right or good or wrong or something else entirely. The humor crafted by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell is a perfect balance to the layers of deception, betrayal, and manipulation that takes place.
Matt Horak’s art and colors capture the characters, landscape, and humorous moments with beautiful clarity. Galen Showman’s letters are etched in a classic script and convey the nuanced tones and expressions of the narrator and the characters. Some readers will recognize the tousled black hair above black sunglasses of the poet wearing a black trenchcoat at a poetry reading. Only those readers can decide which type of poet this represents.