The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act
By Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (2014)
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. This is a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.
My result: Highly Recommended
When you first open The Wicked + The Divine, you will be immediately drawn in by the artwork. Gorgeous full-color spreads fill the pages, and each issue begins with a full page closeup on the face of a god. It’s a mix of perfectly smooth gradients and color blocks with human emotions. The effect is one of unnerving perfection, a beauty too good to be true. Then you start reading, and realize the art style is a perfect match to the story.
Full book review
The Wicked + The Divine is a story of twelve gods who walk among us openly. They are worshipped with the pop star intensity of modern obsession. They are despised with equal fervor. Like their stunning portraits, the gods of the Pantheon are mesmerizing and surreal.
Our window to the story is Laura, a devoted groupie. She collects information on her gods with the enthusiasm of any ultimate fan. Through her eyes, they are seductive and larger than life. Yet Laura holds her own. She could easily have faded into the background against her superhuman costars, but she’s got enough personality and quick-thinking to stand strong. Laura’s quest drives the story, and her relationship with the gods, especially Lucifer, keeps it emotionally centered.
The Wicked + The Divine is a fast-paced story, with god-scaled conflict and moments of rock star showmanship and violence. Once begun, it’s an adrenaline ride that’s hard to put down. But there’s so much detail and subtle technique that a reread is just as rewarding.
Art styles tell the story with as much subtlety as a fiction master uses prose techniques. A moment of violence explodes in pop art fluorescents. A memory shades into muted tones. At the moment of a lie, a face is shadowed with subtle stippling. The artwork alone could make The Wicked + The Divine, but it’s always in service of the story.
Final verdict: Highly Recommended
The Wicked + The Divine can be read for pleasure, as an exciting story with beautiful art. Or it can be read as a thoughtful reflection on modern culture’s obsession with celebrity. In either case, it’s well worth a read. The price of being a god is high, but how many of us would choose it anyway?
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