The Rhinegold
by P. Craig Russell
(Dark Horse, 2002)

Its official title must be among the longest in comics history: The Ring of the Nibelung. Book One: The Rhinegold. Chapter One: The Rape of the Gold. With luck, it will also be long remembered.

To make a long review short, The Rhinegold is a powerful and entertaining adaptation of a Richard Wagner opera in which, thankfully, you won't have to listen to the fat lady sing. You will, however, have to read an engaging story of theft and adventure among Scandinavian gods, and enjoy some of the best art in the comics medium.

If you haven't seen the opera, you'll be surprised at how heavy a debt fantasy novelist J.R.R. Tolkein owes to Wagner for the inspiration for Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings.

You'll also be amazed at how heavy a debt superhero comic books in general owe to Wagner and mythology, especially the work of the late artist and writer Jack Kirby. The melodrama of epic opera is no stranger to comic books.

That debt becomes obvious as Alberich of the Nibelungs steals a block of gold that hold a power awesome enough to frighten the god Votan (Odin). The dwarfish Nibelungs are masters of metalcraft, and Alberich makes a ring from the Rhinegold. Votan, with the help of Loge (Loki) and Donner (Thor) must steal that ring to ransom his wife's sister from a deal poorly struck with two giant brothers.

The deal struck between readers and this reviewer has always been for me to find comic book titles that adults will enjoy. Our contract is fulfilled: we have struck gold.

The only criticism offered is that P. Craig Russell needs four of six extra hands so that he can produce more of some of the best work in comics history. The Rhinegold is highly recommended for all ages.

[ by Michael Vance ]
Rambles: 7 December 2002

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