Comics Roundup #15: The Wicked and the Divine, Vols. 1-4

After reading Trang’s review of The Wicked + the Divine, I was convinced to give the comic another try. It was one of the first comics I read when I decided to give the medium a try about two years ago. I was attracted to the title and the minimalist cover design of its first volume. When I opened the book to quickly flip through it, I was hooked. I loved the illustrations. The sellers at the comic book shop then told me it’s about mythological gods incarnated as superstars and that one even looks like Rihanna — I was sold. Anything fantasy that deals with gods and how they affect people’s lives is catnip for me.

Genre:

Fantasy; contemporary

Quick summary:

The Wicked + The Divine is a fantasy comic book series set in present day U.K. about mythological gods who are incarnated as humans every ninety years but die after two years. This time, the gods appear as pop superstars. Everyone loves them and hates them and wants to be them. The story follows Laura, a teenager who yearns to be part of the Pantheon (the group of gods), as she gets tangled in the gods’ affairs.

My thoughts:

This reading experience was surprising. When I first approached this comic, I admired it but was disappointed that I didn’t glean much from its story. The first volume left me confused about the story, so though I rated it 4.5 stars back then, I decided to give up on the series.

However, Trang’s review reignited my interest. It was fortunate that I’d shared the comic with my bro when I first read it because he loved it and bought the next three volumes in the series, which I quickly read this time. I do not know why I got hooked on the story this time. I guess because of Trang’s review, I approached the story with a more open mind and more patience. I was willing to wait it out and just admire the illustrations as the story picked up.

As on my first read, I was confused by the end of the first volume, The Faust Act, however this time I was curious to see what happens next and willing to continue with the story instead of annoyed and ready to give up. When I completed it, I gave it a half star less than I did on my first read. It received 4 stars for presenting an engaging story that touches on subjects I love and featuring clean illustrations and colors that perfectly complements the story and its characters. It lost a star for the confusion it left me in.

Of the four volumes, the second, Fandemonium, is one of my favorites. Though it provides some backstory, this volume left me with even more questions than I had when the first ended, thus thoroughly hooking me to the series. We delve deeper into the mystery of the killer, meet new characters/gods (one looks like Prince), and learn more about how the characters/gods interact with each other and influence their fans. I loved this volume because the mystery thickens here, though we learn of a killer by the end, and I started to realize how funny the story and characters are (I’m slow so I started to pick up on the humor in this one). I also appreciated the many pop culture references and love that more depth is added to Laura’s character, who was a disappointment to me in the first volume. Baphomet was also interesting because of his struggle, and I liked that Ananke’s character also became more complex. I was so suspicious of her. This one got 5 huge stars.

Then I read the third volume, Commercial Suicide, and almost lost my love of the series. Part of the reason why I love this series is the art, but this issue featured work by several different artists, few of which I liked. I was often so distracted by my dislike of some of the work that I didn’t pay close attention to the story, which is harsh to say but true. Not all the characters/gods are given a chance to share their personal stories in the previous volumes so in this one they are all given a voice; well, most of them. We learn their backstories and sometimes get their perspective on the current conflict. Of these stories, Sakhmet’s was quite interesting and so too was the Morrigan’s. Woden’s story was especially interesting and though he is an unlikeable character, I became curious about him and started to like him a little (he’s funny). We also get to meet Tara in this one. Everyone hates her. And she appeared for such a short issue that I wonder if I hate her too. Fucking Tara (lol, smh). I liked the Twitter feed portions in the Tara issues because that made the story seem even more realistic and true to current culture. I also like that the story explores through Tara how popular, beautiful women are treated, especially on social media. This issue received 3.5 stars.

The fourth volume, Rising Action, was fucking CRAY!!! It was indeed the series’ rising action. So much shit happened and there are so many twists that I had to read it twice. It’s my other favorite volume in the series. I can’t say much about what happens (well, I haven’t said anything of what happens in the books so far, but whatever!) because everything would be a spoiler. There were so many surprises that I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I read with my heart racing. That huge, crazy battle scene was huge and crazy. We learn who’s behind everything, a character is reincarnated as a badass, and now I wonder what the hell will happen next. Was what happened at the end of this one necessary (lol)? Is it the first it has happened? How crazy will shit get? I also loved that we get the characters’/gods’ thoughts on the cycle of their lives, having to die and be reincarnated. I think that was interesting (though I can’t remember if that happened in this volume or in one of the previous ones. Hmm…). Another 5 stars, of course.

Art style:

I love the art. I mentioned that before, but I really do love the art. Of all the comics I’ve read these past two years, the illustrations in The Wicked + The Divine are my favorite. The lines are clean (I love me some clean lines) and the illustrations are detailed and precise.

I love how the characters are drawn. They are attractive and their features are distinctive so we don’t confuse them. Also, they all have their own personal style, which I love. If I were to cosplay or something, I’d dress up as either Lucifer, Persephone, the Morrigan, or Urdr. I love their costumes!!! 😃 Also, the full-page portraits of the characters are really cool too. I’d love to get posters of them.

What makes the illustrations appealing are the colors. The comic uses a mostly cool color palette, however it can be bright and warm when it needs to without being overpowering. I love the overall use of colors, but I went crazy when the characters are at a Dionysus party and the color scheme changed to resemble a strobe-light effect. That was real fucking cool. It made me want to be at that party.

So colors: awesome! Illustrations: awesome! Characters: awesome! Settings and costumes and other details: awesome! Awesome! Awesome!! I love it all.

The only time the art faltered for me was in the third volume when the artists changed. I guess that’s a good way of featuring other artists in the industry who also enjoy this comic and whose work we might be interested in. Of them all, I liked the artwork done by the series’ usual artist, Jamie McKelvie, and usual colorist, Matthew Wilson (issue #14) and by Stephanie Hans (issue #15). Han’s style was really cool, very atmospheric and more like paintings. I didn’t like Brandon Graham’s (issue #17) style at first because it was simple and very cartoony, but it grew on me.

Here are a few shots from all four volumes. My phone doesn’t do it justice. Click on them for larger versions:

Overall: ★★★★☆ 1/2

I give the series so far an overall rating of 4.5 stars because the story is great, the characters are interesting, and the artwork is friggin awesomely beautiful (except for that one volume). Here’s my rating break down for each volume:

Vol. 1: The Faust Act ★★★★☆

by Kieron Gillen, illus. by Jamie McKelvie with colors by Matthew Wilson

Vol. 2: Fandemonium ★★★★★

by Kieron Gillen, illus. by Jamie McKelvie with colors by Matthew Wilson

Vol. 3: Commercial Suicide ★★★☆☆ ½

by Kieron Gillen, illus. by Kate Brown (issue #12); Tula Lotay (issue #13); Jamie McKelvie with colors by Matthew Wilson (issue #14); Stephanie Hans (issue #15); Leila del Duca with colors by Mat Lopes (issue #16); Brandon Graham (issue #17)

Vol. 4: Rising Action ★★★★★

by Kieron Gillen, illus. by Jamie McKelvie with colors by Matthew Wilson

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

I think this one is worth the buy. If you love beautiful illustrations, get it. If you are a fan of pop culture, get it. If you like anything that includes gods and mythology, get it. I highly recommend it.

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24 thoughts on “Comics Roundup #15: The Wicked and the Divine, Vols. 1-4

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  5. That Baal screenshot reminds me of Kanye West – Power (the music video). This series has always intrigued me because of the buzz around it, but now I can see that its crazy and original enough to pique the interest of so many people! I’m glad to hear that Trang’s review got you to give this another shot only to make you love it in the end (excluding that third volume though). Great reviews! 😀

    – Lashaan

    Like

    • Ah yes! True that. It also reminds me of an episode of Cribs (not sure if it was Cribs but it was one of those shows from back in the day that showed celebrity houses) where Kanye had a painting on the ceiling or summin with him as Jesus or an angel or summin. Memory foggy.
      You should try the series too. You might like it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The first thing that came to mind when you said Cribs is that MTV thing where they check out celebrity houses. I’ve watched a couple of their episodes for certain individuals of that! 😛 Some where funny, some where insane and made me way too jelly to want to see more about how they spend their $$$ LOL

        – Lashaan

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  7. Wiki tells me that jesus and Satan are both referred to as Lucifer, which is interesting,
    And means ‘bringer of light ‘, which seems a better name for jesus really 😕

    Don’t forget to remind your bro that saga 7 is out at the end of the month too!
    🙉

    Like

    • Hmm… Jesus too is referred to as Lucifer? I thought it was just Satan.
      Yea, I got my eyes open for that Saga issue. I really need to catch up though. Might spend April getting through comics.

      Like

      • And speaking of the 👿,
        Here be April, so a pinch and a punch for the first of the month, which begin with a weekend for you, so there’s a good start 💬 yay!

        Oh, it’s all fools day too, you’ll need to keep a look out for tricksters, Hehehe.

        😶

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’d love to see your thoughts on it. It’s really good. Even the third volume is good. I just didn’t like that the art changes there and for me the art is a major reason why I read it.

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  8. I haven’t really considered this series, but it may be because I am so wrapped up in Low and others at the moment. I should probably add them to the TBR to see how I feel. It looks like, aside from the 3rd volume, you enjoyed them rather well.

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    • Yes! Add them to your TBR. The only reason why I didn’t like the third volume much is because the art changed there. It actually wasn’t bad. But for me the art is a major factor hence the the 3.5 stars.

      Liked by 1 person

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