Friday, April 15, 2016

Comic Review: The Wicked and The Divine (volumes one and two)

While I haven't been watching a lot of movies lately I am been up to my ears in comics and manga! Part of this is that I on occasion remember that the DC library actually stocks current comic series and I finally had a chance to check out a series I had quite a bit of good buzz about. Actually, I only requested the first volume, as soon as I tore through it I immediately jumped back online for the second volume and I'm hoping they get the third trade soon!

The Wicked and The Divine written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Jamie McKelvie

Every ninety years, the gods return. They reincarnate, showing up in regular people and seem compelled to perform and produce great works of art for the next two years. And then, as they are told when they awaken "you will be loved, you will be hated, and in two years you will be dead." Laura is not a god, she was a passionate fan in the years leading up to these events and now when divinities once again walk the Earth it seems like anything can happen. 

The Wicked and The Divine makes a good call by making the first main, point of view character a regular girl instead of one of the gods. This might seem like a cliche, "ordinary person is drawn into an extraordinary circumstance without a greater reason" but here me out, this idea is only intolerable if it turns out that the character has ~a greater destiny~ but Laura is very human. In a way she actually reminds me of Kamela Khan from Ms Marvel, not just because they are non-white female leads (the story is pretty good overall with diversity actually) but because both of these girls start out as "fans" of the heroes and gods and never quite lose that mindset. They both conduct themselves well in these circumstances but there is never a moment when either of them has to put that part of themselves aside and "grow up", it's always nice to have a character who is as entranced by their world as the reader is. 

Laura is the main point of view character but the story follows several other characters as well, although much more sporadically and only to advance the "plot". Plot in quotation marks since, while there are conflicts and mysteries in the story, there isn't an overarching story yet. Lucifer's trial turned out to be only one arc, not the arc of the entire story, and seems largely resolved by the end of the second volume (and all of the characters have hit dead ends trying to pursue it even farther). With the exception of Ananke (who awakens the gods without fully being one herself), we already know the motivations of most of the characters (live life to the fullest in the two year they have left, or find a way to gain more time) and even though that might sound boring, the characters are varied so every set of interactions is different and that's what drives the story. A few characters do come off as a bit flat, they seem too flaky or arrogant, but those are also the characters we've seen the least of so far so I'm reserving judgement on overall development for now.

Honestly I just simply liked the story, something really clicked with me. I do like the art as well which always helps (there was one scene in a club that I found hard to follow but otherwise I have only praise for the designs and the staging) and the story's mysteries are both fun to read and fun to think about later. I really can't wait to get a hold of the third trade, the second volume ends on a very unexpected note and (if the story doesn't ret-con it later) it's the first time I've seen that particular idea happen in these circumstances with such large-reaching affects, and new takes on old ideas is always exciting! And with the pacing and the story's focus on performances I actually feel like it could adapt into a tv series so I'm not surprised that the series has already been optioned. If it does go through, it looks like there hasn't been any news on it in a while, I hope it's as eye-catching and opulent as the comic!