REVIEW: Dark Horse Comics’ “Norse Mythology Volume 3”

Everything ends. And everything begins again. At least, that’s how Ragnarok goes in Norse Mythology Volume 3, the final volume in Dark Horse Comics’ adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. While the first two volumes follow the (mostly) light-hearted, irreverent misadventures of the Norse gods, Norse Mythology Volume 3 takes a turn toward the dark side, showcasing the end of everything and the rebirth of things anew. Adaptor P. Craig Russell once again brings Gaiman’s text to life beautifully, aided by artwork from David Rubín, Colleen Doran, and Galen Showman. And, truth be told, Norse Mythology Volume 3 is easily the highlight of the entire series.

Norse Mythology Volume 3 adapts the final four stories from Gaiman’s original collection. While the previous volumes primarily featured standalone stories, volume 3’s stories form a more cohesive narrative surrounding Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse. In “Hymir and Thor’s Fishing Expedition,” Tyr and Thor try to win Hymir’s ale-brewing cauldron, encountering the Midgard serpent along the way. “The Death of Balder” explores the death of one of the most beloved gods, and the immediate aftermath. Balder’s death leads directly into “The Last Days of Loki,” a story that sees the rest of the gods finally take their revenge on Loki. And all of these stories perfectly set up the events of “Ragnarok: The Final Destiny of the Gods.” Put simply, these are my favorite stories from Gaiman’s original collection, and they’re brought to life gorgeously here.

Unlike in previous volumes, the stories in Norse Mythology Volume 3 can’t really be judged on their own. Since each one builds off of the previous ones while setting up subsequent stories, the volume reads more like a traditional graphic novel than a collection of short stories. And honestly, that’s probably why it’s my favorite of the Norse Mythology series. That being said, “The Last Days of Loki” and “Ragnarok” are easily my favorite stories in this volume. I just love the way the other gods finally punish Loki for his tricks, fulfilling prophecies hinted at earlier in the volume. And then “Ragnarok” provides the perfect climax for the entire series, delivering apocalyptic bloodshed and hopeful new beginnings in equal measures. If you’re familiar with the Marvel movies, brace yourself – this ain’t the Ragnarok of the MCU, that’s for sure.

As with previous volumes, Norse Mythology Volume 3 is a fantastic adaptation paired with some truly gorgeous artwork. Once again, Russell hews very closely to Gaiman’s original text, copying many sections verbatim while gently abridging other parts. It’s a wordy graphic novel, to be sure, but Russell leaves plenty of room for the artwork to do most of the heavy lifting. And speaking of artwork, this volume features some truly gorgeous imagery. Once again, each story features a different artist, each of whom brings their own style to the series. David Rubín illustrates “Hymir and Thor’s Fishing Expedition,” Colleen Doran illustrates “The Death of Balder,” Galen Showman illustrates “The Last Days of Loki,” and P. Craig Russell illustrates “Ragnarok”. Each artist does incredible work here, easily some of the best seen in the entire series.

While it’s hard to pick a favorite, I really loved David Rubín’s work in “Hymir and Thor’s Fishing Expedition” and Colleen Doran’s work in “The Death of Balder”. Rubín’s colors immediately evoke the ocean, and all of his art just feels otherworldly in a way that’s simply impossible to put into words. Doran brings her trademark warmth to “The Death of Balder,” and her style makes for a nice contrast to the darkness of the text. Her art adds this heartbreaking layer of humanity to what’s already a sad story, and it’s simply gorgeous. Elsewhere, Galen Showman perfectly captures the melancholy of Loki’s ultimate punishment in “The Last Days of Loki” and P. Craig Russell gives “Ragnarok” the oomph it deserves, bringing the series to an explosive conclusion. On the whole, Norse Mythology is an excellent adaptation that’s packed to the brim with gorgeous artwork.

Overall, Norse Mythology Volume 3 brings Dark Horse Comics’ adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology to an immensely satisfying conclusion. Featuring some gorgeous artwork, it’s easily the best volume of the series. It’s got the best stories, all retold with exactly the excitement, emotion, danger, and adventure they deserve. Russell does an excellent job adapting these stories as comics, marrying the poetry of Gaiman’s original text with the majesty of each artist’s breathtaking illustrations. If you’ve been reading the series as it’s published, you’ll definitely want to pick this volume up. And if you’re new to the series, go back and grab the first two volumes. The entire Norse Mythology series is a must-read, especially given how well it ends.

Norse Mythology Volume 2 is available in Hardcover and eBook formats from Dark Horse Comics.

DISCLAIMER: A review copy of Norse Mythology Volume 3 was provided by Dark Horse Comics and Edelweiss+. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

NOTE: This review was also posted on Geek Vibes Nation.

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