REVIEW: Dark Horse Comics’ “Norse Mythology Volume 2”

Dark Horse Comics continues its adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology with Norse Mythology Volume 2. Collecting four more retellings of Norse myths, Norse Mythology Volume 2 features artwork from Matt Horak, Mark Buckingham, Gabriel Hernández Walta, and Sandy Jarrell. And, much like the first volume, adaptor P. Craig Russell and the various artists deliver a faithful, entertaining retelling of these stories. If you’ve read Gaiman’s original book, you’ll enjoy seeing these tales brought to life like this. And if you haven’t, then Norse Mythology Volume 2 is a great place to start.

NOTE: I received a review copy of Norse Mythology Volume 2 from Dark Horse Comics and Edelweiss+. All thoughts are my own.

Norse Mythology Volume 2
Adapted by P. Craig Russell
Illustrated by Matt Horak, Mark Buckingham, Gabriel Hernández Walta, and Sandy Jarrell
In this second volume, Gaiman and Russell once more team with a legendary collection of artists to bring more Norse myths to life, including the origins of poetry and a mead that many will die for, Thor and Loki’s eventful trip into the land of giants, the gods’ woeful bargain that might lose them eternal life, and the beloved god Frey’s journey to Valhalla and beyond to find a certain missing something.

Picking up where the previous volume ended, Norse Mythology Volume 2 adapts the next four stories in Gaiman’s original book. “The Mead of Poets” explains how good (and bad) poets get their inspiration. “Thor’s Journey to the Land of Giants” follows Thor and Loki as they fall prey to the trickery of a giant. “The Apples of Immortality” sees Loki having to figure out a way to rescue the Gods’ source of eternal life. And “The Story of Gerd and Frey” follows Frey as he tries to fill a void in his heart. For me, this volume is kind of a mixed bag. This part of Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is easily my least favorite, and this adaptation suffers from that. None of the stories are bad or anything, they’re just not as iconic as those in volume 1 or those set to be adapted in volume 3.

All of the stories are solid, though. The standouts are probably “The Mead of Poets” and “Thor’s Journey to the Land of Giants”. Both of these stories straddle the line between the inherent silliness of the gods and their over-the-top brutality. Plus, they’re just a lot of fun too. And they’re also the longest stories in the collection, meaning there’s more time to delve into them and enjoy all that’s going on. “The Apples of Immortality” and “The Story of Gerd and Frey” are both enjoyable in their own rights. But, overall, they’re less memorable than the first two. Once again, there’s no overarching storyline. But that’s fine. Honestly, a lot of the joy comes from the disconnected nature of the stories. And it gives the whole collection a nice re-readability factor. You can just randomly pick it up and read whatever story you want without any trouble.

Adaptation-wise, Norse Mythology Volume 2 continues the trend begun in volume 1. It’s a faithful adaptation, with the bulk of the text lifted directly from Gaiman’s original book. There are a still lot of captions. However, unlike the American Gods adaptations, Russell and the other artists allow the art to do more of the storytelling, primarily using the captions to set scenes or tie various scenes together. Overall, this approach works very well. It still feels like you’re reading Gaiman’s original book but with the added benefit of some truly gorgeous illustrations to bring the stories to life. And it’s a great experience. Speaking of the illustrations, the best part of these Norse Mythology adaptations continues to be the artwork – both how good it is and how varied it is.

Each story is illustrated by a different artist. Matt Horak illustrates “The Mead of Poets”. Mark Buckingham tackles “Thor’s Journey to the Land of Giants”. Gabriel Hernández Walta does “The Apples of Immortality”. And Sandy Jarrell illustrates “The Story of Gerd and Frey”. While each artist brings their own style to their stories, each story still shares a cohesive look overall. That combination of variety within the constraints of a certain look proves absolutely delightful. And it only adds to the feeling that you’re reading a collection of stories about these gods. There’s not a page in Norse Mythology Volume 2 that isn’t gorgeous to behold. Personally, I found myself most drawn to Horak and Walta’s artwork. But every artist brings their A-Game here. And the end result is well worth the price of entry.

At the end of the day, Norse Mythology Volume 2 may not be my favorite installment in the Norse Mythology series. But it is an enjoyable, faithful adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s original book. Each individual story is well-adapted, even if most of them aren’t as memorable as some past (or future) stories, and the artwork remains absolutely incredible. If you’re a fan of Gaiman’s work, or of Norse mythology in general, Norse Mythology Volume 2 is well worth a read. And if you’re new to Norse mythology, there’s honestly no better place to start than with these adaptations.

4 out of 5 wands.

This review also ran on Geek Vibes Nation.

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