Comic Corner: The Wicked + The Divine

When I went to ALA in 2017, I spent a lot of  time perusing the graphic novel/comic book alley, knowing that there wasn't much of a demand for either at my library. I couldn't help myself, I'd taken a course over them in college and rediscovered how much I loved them. Wichita has a few comic book stores, but I've never genuinely felt comfortable in them, so this was my opportunity to see what was new.

The two series that stood out to me were Monstress by Marjorie Liu and The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (as I'm sure you've noticed). Monstress's graphics had this dark, ethereal quality that always manages to draw me in, but the first few pages of The Wicked + The Divine felt like a fever dream, the colors were so vivid and you're immediately thrown into the story with just a little context from your main character.

I liked them, but I didn't pick them up.

This year, I've been busy doing reviews, feeling obligated to review most things that come my way because people are personally asking me to review them, but I got burned out. The few "for me" reviews I had waiting in the wings to be published sucked, my heart wasn't in them, I needed something fun to take my mind off of all of the things going wrong in my life; around that time, someone I follow mentioned really loving The Wicked + The Divine, so I threw out the other books I was slogging through and interlibrary loaned the first two volumes.

The premise is gods and goddesses turned celebrities: every religion is up for grabs, everyone is welcome in the pantheon; they inhabit a chosen vessel for two years, they make the most of their time, and then they die, destined (or doomed) to repeat the cycle in another 90 years. I got through the first volume and said, "oh, this is one of the weirder things I've read," then proceeded to order the next six volumes.
Image result for the wicked and the divine
I am hooked, it's a problem. Look at this art style: for me it's everything a modern Andy Warhol would be. The colors are vivid and masterfully portrays the mood and character impression, I feel like they hit every panel out of the park every time.

The story plays out for me very similarly to Alan Moore's The Watchmen, in the sense that it takes common fantasy/pop culture material and gives it back a bit of grit. There's more depth and political intrigue in these electric gods and goddesses than I was initially ready to give them credit for. We begin with one teenager's pop star phase turned obsession and fall quickly into a murder mystery. Now these are deities as they were originally presented: drama queens. I am here for it, because it doesn't feel petty: their problems are presented in a way that makes you want to buy in and get emotionally involved.

And let's talk representation: there are characters from all ethnicities and walks of life, across the LGBT+ spectrum without feeling like it's trying too hard. This is the kind of representation pop culture needs, the relationships aren't treated like the main focus of the story, they play out in the background and add to the drama/suspense without overrunning it. I haven't read anything I liked this much in a long time, I can't wait to see what happens next. This might be the first comic series I actually buy physical copies of because I know I'm going to reread them.


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