Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Wicked + The Divine #1 Review (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie)

Any comic that reminds me that I haven’t heard that great song I Saw Her Standing There by The Beatles and sends me dashing off to listen to it several times before resuming reading, is a winner for me! And of course it would be Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, the team behind one of Marvel’s best limited-runs in recent years, Young Avengers. 

They’ve promised a new Phonogram series later this year but before that is their Phonogram-esque series, The Wicked + The Divine - which is fine by me as I find Phonogram to be tediously directionless and a bit too hipster-ish for my liking.

This series stars a David Bowie-lookalike girl called Luci who is immune to bullets and can make guys’ heads explode with a click of her finely manicured fingers. How? Luci is short for Lucifer. She’s joined by other gods who come back to Earth every 90 years or so and assume human form. Now, they’ve taken the form of rock stars, and someone is out to kill them. 

I may not fully know what the hell is going on in this first issue but it doesn’t matter when the art is this awesome. If Led Zeppelin’s music were comic art, it would look like McKelvie and colourist Matt Wilson’s work in this issue. The images are sharp and arresting, from the amazing cover (I got the Luci one - there were quite a few variants made), to the Jonathan Hickman-like symbols of the first page, to the startling close-up of a skull, and the cryptic prologue in 1923 where an old lady wearing an amazing jewelled mask presides over the suicides of four young people - it’s all so good. And I’ve only described the first eight pages! 

Gillen’s script for this opener is deliberately obtuse as we’re not supposed to know what’s happening yet. In fact the way this comic is written seems like a piece of music we’re meant to experience emotionally rather than engage with cerebrally. At times the writing even feels like lyrics to a song - “She looks like a god/ Almost/ She’s just seventeen/ No one believes it/ She’s not seventeen/ She’s immortal”. 

The interview portion between a sceptical reporter and a god is quite brilliant as Gillen addresses some of the thoughts I was thinking - the poseur nature of rock/pop stars, the arrogance of their attitudes and style - before heading out into action-hero territory as Luci takes out some would-be assassins. That panel where she stands on the window frame and says “Good evening” before she attacked was so cool. If nothing else, Gillen’s established Luci as the an awesome anti-hero, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more than a few Lucis show up at Comic-Con this year (or Halloween if it’s too late to pull together the white outfit). 

The Wicked + The Divine #1 is a compelling and really gorgeous comic from this fantastic creative team. It’s a great start to a very promising new series and I can’t wait for more music, magic and gods. Now I’m off to listen to some Thin White Duke-era David Bowie (so many wonderful musical influences in this issue)!

The Wicked + The Divine #1

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