Comics Roundup #51: The Wicked and the Divine, Vols. 1-9

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

Genre

Fantasy

Series

Wicked + the Divine, Vols. 1-9

Pubbed

2014 (first volume)
2019 (last volume)

Quick summary

(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)

My thoughts

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.)

Art style

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.

Comics Roundup #50: “In”

I received an e-ARC of this graphic novel through NetGalley. I’d never heard of the author/artist before doing so, but the description of the story interested me. As such, I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, and after the first couple pages, I thought I’d be bored and dislike the book. But, surprisingly, I liked it.

In by Will McPhail (illus.)

Genre

Contemporary

Series

n/a

Pub

May 18, 2021

Goodreads summary

A poignant and witty graphic novel by a leading New Yorker cartoonist, following a millennial’s journey from performing his life to truly connecting with people.

Continue reading “Comics Roundup #50: “In””

“Truth or Beard” by Penny Reid

I introduced myself to Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series last year by reading the second book in the series. It left me wanting more, so I picked the first book soon after completing Grin & Beard It, and devoured it.

Genre

Romance

Series

Winston Brothers, book 1

Pubbed

2015

Goodreads summary

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!

Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.

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“Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend

There are so many delightful moments in this book, and that’s what kept my interest and kept me reading. What next silly, entertaining thing will I read next, I wondered. With all that went on in 2020, this was just what I needed toward the end of the year — something light-hearted. Of course, there were some serious moments in the book since the story touches on something similar to what everyone in the world is currently struggling with — a pandemic.

Genre

MG Fantasy

Series

Nevermoor, book 3

Pubbed

September 2020

Goodreads summary

Morrigan Crow and her friends have survived their first year as proud scholars of the elite Wundrous Society, helped bring down the nefarious Ghastly Market, and proven themselves loyal to Unit 919. Now Morrigan faces a new, exciting challenge: to master the mysterious Wretched Arts of the Accomplished Wundersmith, and control the power that threatens to consume her.

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Comics Roundup #49: “Adulthood Is a Myth”

The last two graphic novels I read in 2020 were lucky finds in my library’s Libby app collection. I first tried An Embarrassment of Witches by Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan, which was a fun read, and then picked up this one because I’ve seen it mentioned by many bloggers and vloggers.

Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen (illus.)

Genre

Humor

Series

Sarah’s Scribbles, book 1

Pubbed

2016

Goodreads summary

These casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by the hugely popular young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen are for the rest of us. They document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, and dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. Oh and they are totally not autobiographical. At all.

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Comics Roundup #48: “An Embarrassment of Witches”

Sometimes I go on my library’s Libby app just to browse what they have in their online collection. I was doing that one night when I stubbled upon An Embarrassment of Witches by Sophie Goldstein & Jenn Jordan. It’s a YA fantasy graphic novel about two young women navigating life after college and their changing friendship.

An Embarrassment of Witches by Sophie Goldstein (illus.) & Jenn Jordan

Genre

YA Fantasy

Series

n/a

Pubbed

2020

Goodreads summary

Life after college isn’t turning out exactly as Rory and Angela had planned. Rory, recently dumped at the gate of her flight to Australia, needs to find a new life path ASAP. What do you do with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Southeast Asian Spellcraft? Maybe her cute new housemate Guy is the answer she’s looking for (spoiler alert: he isn’t).

Continue reading “Comics Roundup #48: “An Embarrassment of Witches””

2021 Reading Plans

I’m all done reflecting on what I read and did last year. 2020 was a good year for my reading and blogging. I read way more than I anticipated (94 books, comics, and picture books) and blogged a lot more too. My followers rose as well, which was pretty cool. 😊 Thank you everyone!

I hope such positivity for my blogging and reading will continue into 2021. I kept my reading goals manageable last year, and I plan to continue doing so this year. (I just need to limit the amount of reading events I participate in at a time.)

Many of my goals below are the same as last year.

Overall reading goals

spend less
read more of my own books
complete some series

I spent less and read more of my own books in 2020 but didn’t complete many series. I’d like to continue with these goals because I know I can do better.

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Characters of the Year Book Tag | 2020

Here’s a tag to give a shout-out to the characters I read about and watched in 2020.

I believe this tag was created by Amanda, A Brighter Shade of Hope, at least that’s what I said in my previous posts of this tag; but Amanda’s tag link no longer works. Maybe it was taken down. I mention all this because I like to credit those who create the tags, and I really think she created this one. So…

Favorite male character of the year

Maia

That’s Maia the half-goblin from The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. It’s a fantasy novel about a young half-goblin, Maia, who suddenly becomes emperor when his father died. Maia is just the sweetest. He’s pretty naïve when he becomes emperor, and it shows. I love that we get to follow along as he grows and becomes more competent and confident in his position.

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2020 End of Year Book Survey

It’s that time again for the very long, very detailed book survey created by Jamie, the Perpetual Page-Turner. I enjoy doing this each year. It’s just a fun way to reflect on one’s reading. There are a lot of questions, so I’ll most likely skip some of them (and you’ll most likely not read all of them, lol).

2020 Reading Stats

Number of books read: 94

Books: 44
Audio: 22
E-books: 28

Number of books reread: 24

Number of books I Did Not Finish: 4

Genre I read the most: Fantasy

Best book I read in 2020:

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

It’s a children’s picture book that has no pictures in it, and it’s the best book I read in 2020 because it was light and simple and the best companion to have during such a tumultuous year.

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ZeZee’s Disappointing Reads of 2020

Hey, the disappointing books I read deserve some love too, so here’s a list of them.

I’m of the opinion that listing my disappointing reads can help them attract a new book lover. Just because I didn’t like them doesn’t mean everyone else will. I don’t often see people list their disappointing reads, but I’ve sometimes found recommendations on the few such lists I’ve seen and have even added a book to my TBR after reading a negative review of it. So, although these books and comics didn’t work for me, they might interest you.

You’ll also notice that not all of these disappointing reads received a low rating. I mostly rate based on my enjoyment of what I read because I read to be entertained, but I also consider how well crafted the book, comic, or picture book is. So some of these received a high rating because they are well written (and I probably enjoyed them at first) but ultimately let me down by the end (and I couldn’t ignore/forgive that so I added them to this list).

These are listed in the order I read them throughout the year. If I posted a review, I will link to it.

(NOTE: If the layout below looks wonky, it’s mostly likely because you’re viewing this on your phone in the WordPress Reader app which, for some reason unknown to me, keeps messing up the layout when I use certain gallery settings to format the layout of photos. If you view it on the website instead, it will show correctly.)

Continue reading “ZeZee’s Disappointing Reads of 2020”