Okay, so I messed up with this. I read through the entire Wicked + the Divine series back in November and loved it so much that I procrastinated on writing my thoughts on it. Now I’ve waited too long to do so and some of my reactions to what I read have faded from my memory. I regret that. I should have gotten to this sooner instead of punking out, too intimidated by my raving emotions at how much I enjoyed reading this series.
The Wicked + the Divine, Vols. 1-9 by Kieron Gillen, illus. by Jamie McKelvie, colored by Matthew Wilson
Wicked + the Divine, Vols. 1-9
2014 (first volume)
2019 (last volume)
(based on what I wrote for my review of vols. 1-4)
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 — one of the gods is blamed for murdering a judge. Laura seeks to prove the god’s innocence while hoping to gain greater influence with them. (Goodreads)
Completing the WicDiv series was both a first-time read and a reread experience. I reread volumes 1-4 and read volumes 5-9 for the first time. I’m glad I did this because I really enjoyed the time I spent reading this series. It was entertaining and also beautiful to look at. I liked the development of the characters, the witty dialogue, the surprising twists, and the… different ways the story was presented in certain issues.
In case you were wondering, I believe the WicDiv series is for older teens and adults due to its sexual content and violence. It’s not gory — well, it didn’t seem so to me, but it does get bloody because heads do blow up. It has a diverse cast of characters and is LGBTQ positive and has SUCH an interesting plot! I just can’t recommend it enough.
My review below will be long because I’ll briefly discuss all nine volumes, but just know that it’s a great read that’s worth your time.
This was my third time reading the first volume, The Faust Act. I didn’t like it the first time I read it because the story and characters didn’t click with me. I felt a little lost. I was later convinced to revisit the series and ended up liking this volume on my second read and becoming interested in the story. Like on my second read through, I gave The Faust Act 4 stars because its charm on me still held (despite the 3-year gap since my second read) and I still love the illustrations.
The great thing about rereading a book is that you pick up on details you missed your first time through. I think this is what helped the story to appeal to me the second time I reread the first volume and now. But rereads can also work the opposite way and make a book seem less appealing. That didn’t necessarily happen with the WicDiv series, but I did drop half a star rating with I rated the second volume, Fandemonium, this time around. I still enjoyed it and still thought it was a great entry in the series. Again, it pumped up my interest as the mystery intensifies, and we learn more about the characters/gods. This time, the humor appealed to me even more, and I picked up on details I know I paid no attention to on my first read through. For all that (and for the great art and the design of the gods introduced in this one), I gave it 4.5 stars. It’s still one of my favorites in the series.
My feelings about the third volume, Commercial Suicide, remains unchanged. I appreciate that other artists were invited to illustrate a few issues, but not all the styles appealed to me and I ended up sorely missing Jamie McKelvie’s line work and Matthew Wilson’s coloring (they did issue #14, which appears in this volume, and, of course, I loved it). As for the story, it still held my interest and I still appreciate that each issue focuses on the backstory of a god we didn’t spend much time with before. And, oh my gosh (now reflecting on it all after having read all the volumes — can’t believe I liked Woden even a little bit and… poor Tara, and, jeez, everything else), I just love how the story progresses even more (the set ups and misdirection). This series really was a good read. Anyway, this was my second time reading Commercial Suicide and again I gave it 3.5 stars.
The fourth volume, Rising Action, really impressed me on my first read because of the huge showdown and the attempted sacrifice and the surprising death and shocking killer. I was basically frothing at the mouth with excitement when I finished it. Not so this time through. I was a lot calmer, but (knowing what I now know after reading all the way to the last volume), I’m all excited again reflecting on what happens here and how it sets up what’s gonna come next. Thinking about this volume makes me want to reread the entire series. And, of course, the artwork is phenomenal. It’s detailed and clean and the colors are eye-catching and it has so much action to it and each panel could probably be a poster or something (this goes for all the volumes, except Commercial Suicide, which is like my “Tara” for the series, lol). I also dropped this by a half star, so I rated it 4.5 stars this time through.
I read the remaining five volumes for the first time on this read through.
This series gets better with each volume and volume five, Imperial Phase, Part 1, was one of the best for me. First, I love the magazine-like profiles we get for some of the gods. The creators of the series actually asked real-world writers if they’d like to interview the gods to do these features. I think it was a great idea. Since the gods are top pop stars, they would have been featured in magazines. As for the story, the mystery intensifies and gets more complicated. It seems that the gods’ purpose is to hold off an evil, dark creature. And, oh man! Oh man, oh man, oh man. Baal, smh. I can’t say anything because it would all be spoilers but… oh man. I think it was around here that I started feeling a little sorry for Woden again, either here or a little later on. I don’t like him, but he’s keeping track of so many things that I pitied him a bit. But after the big reveal, I didn’t care anything about him again. And that end with Sakhmet! I gave this one 5 stars.
Ok, volume 6, Imperial Phase, Part 2, was another best for me because so much shit happens and there are so many reveals and I was like WAAaaahhh… the whole time. It was an exciting read that had me flipping pages as quickly as I could to see what happens next. So many shocking moments — and I can’t mention them because of spoilers but… so many shocking moments: I rate them in this order from most shocking — Minerva, Woden, Sahkmet, everything else. Love how this volume ends. It made me hopeful about who might pop up next/be active again in the story. I rated this volume 5 stars.
The format of volume 7, Mothering Invention, was unexpected and so was the stuff we learn in it. In volume 6, we learn who’s the killer, the mastermind, behind all that’s happening, and in volume 7 we see how this killer started out, has worked, and continue to work. I appreciated this volume because we get a lot of backstory on one of the characters, see Laura develop even more (she’s a favorite now), and… learn more about others. I also love how detailed the illustrations are in certain scenes. I rated this one 4 stars.
Volume 8, Old Is the New New, feels like the thickest volume. It’s another one that has guest artists for each issue, so again I was sour about it although I actually loved some of the styles in this. As for the story, umm… I’m trying hard to keep this spoiler-free so… I can’t say much, but basically, we get to see what happened to other pantheons in the past. I liked that each issue has a different tone to it, so it’s like a different genre, almost, for each pantheon. One came across as dark and gothic and another was a mystery. There’s some humor throughout it all and even a Christmas story. I enjoyed reading it but was salty about missing out on the usual artwork, so I gave it 3.5 stars.
In comparison, volume 9, “Okay”, felt like the thinnest volume, which is interesting since it’s the last one in the series, but it does a good job wrapping up the story, explaining things, throwing in a little surprise here and there, and ending it all on a satisfactory note. It was back to its usual art team, so I loved the illustrations as well. I rated it 4 stars. (I pity all the gods but especially Baal. Poor dude.)
Kieron Gillen wrote a fantastic story for the Wicked + the Divine comic book series, and Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson did a great job on the illustrations for it. The first volume was one of four comics I picked up when I decided to start reading this format and, in addition to being told it’s about gods, I picked it up because of the gorgeous illustrations.
I love the style. These comics are some of my favorite illustrations in all the comics I’ve ever read. I just love the line work and how neat it is. I love that it’s easy to follow along from panel to panel; I even love how the characters are drawn to express emotion, like the sort of crouch Sakhmet does with her claws extended and her face in a scowl when she’s about to fuck shit up. It’s so neat and detailed and the popping colors make it all so eye-catching.
Thanks to Wilson, the illustrations jump off the page. The colors aren’t so vibrant that they are overwhelming. Instead, they are bright enough to make the illustrations pop and stand out and help to emphasize the characters in certain scenes, even when they’re deep underground in the dark.
Details I love: Persephone’s eyes when she’s about to click someone to death and just her look overall; Lucifier’s David Bowie look… actually, the design of all the gods; I also love the panels when they are remade into gods — the… transformation process, I guess; also the variety of panels used in general. It’s just a beautifully created comic book series. (A lame way to end, but it is beautifully. Go flip through some pages.)
Overall: ★★★★☆ ½
I give the series as a whole 4.5 stars.
The WicDiv series is witty and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was not at all what I thought it would be — not that I had any idea what it would or could be. It was entertaining; it was beautiful, even the guest comics were appealing too although I didn’t like them all. I love how certain characters develop, especially the protagonist, Laura, but also that others surprised us and even shocked us in certain issues. The series is a great read, and I’d highly recommend it.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I HIGHLY recommend it. I think it’s worth it for the story and the art.