Monday, 27 October 2014

The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 1: The Faust Act Review (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie)


Every 90 years the gods are resurrected as young people. They live for 2 years and then they disappear. This time around they’ve come back as rock gods, pop and rap stars. Except somebody wants them dead. After a thwarted assassination attempt, Lucifer is taken to the dock for the deaths of the would-be killers - and seemingly makes the judge’s head go SPLAT! Did she do it - or is Luci being framed? It’s up to mega-fangirl Laura to find out!

The Young Avengers creative team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson (Mike Norton joined another band) reunite for The Wicked + The Divine, an epic fantasy/music murder mystery with a cast of gods! Like Young Avengers, Wicked is a very current comic for 2014 audiences, referencing a lot of what’s happening now and incorporating it into its structure. It’s also rather good!

This first volume introduces us to the colourful cast via Laura, our main character and audience stand-in, as she meets Baal, a Kanye West type, and Amaratsu, a Florence Welch type, as well as numerous others - Luci herself seems very David Bowie. The murder mystery is a framework for the book but doesn’t seem to be the point of it. It’s not resolved by the end and a number of questions remain - but then this is the first in a series so that’s fine.

Instead Wicked feels very moody in comparison to the joie de vivre of Young Avengers. The “dead in 2 years” rule hangs morbidly over the story as the gods pack in as much living as they can in the short time they have before they die, the exploration of mortality being perhaps the point of the story.

It is however, extremely stylish in all areas, from Gillen’s snappy script to McKelvie’s stunning -STUNNING! – artwork with Wilson’s insanely beautiful colours. From the cast’s character designs to pages like Luci’s transformation into Lucifer, to the underground battle with the Morrigan, all of the visuals are remarkable. If you’ve seen McKelvie’s art before, you’ll know how clean, precise, and breathtaking it is. Add in Wilson’s vivid, eye-catching colours and you’ve got something special. Every page, bar none, is a masterclass in comics art. McKelvie even incorporates blank spaces to remarkable effect, and that’s just black emptiness!

You’re going to love Luci - she is easily the coolest comics character of 2014. Did you ever see an anime called Giant Robo? In it, there’s a character called the Fabulous Fitzgerald who clicks his fingers and whatever he clicks them at, they get cut in half. Luci has something similar with her finger clicks, except whatever she clicks at ‘splodes! And her character design - the white suit - is amazing.

I read these in single issues and, at the end of #5, Gillen mentions that this will be like an ongoing Vertigo series. That’s great news because I definitely want to read more, but notice he said “like a Vertigo series”, and that this is published by Image. Ten years ago - hell, five! - this would’ve been a Vertigo title but since then DC have totally wrecked that label so that it’s all but done with these days.

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1 is a brilliant start to a fresh and original series by one of the best creative teams working in comics today. It’s definitely one of the highlights of the year and well worth checking out.

The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 1: The Faust Act

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