Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 3: Commercial Suicide Review (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie)

I think the third volume of The Wicked + The Divine is where I leave this series – rather than improve after the disappointing second volume, it remains flat and at this point I’ve completely lost interest. It even takes things down a notch with artist Jamie McKelvie, whose work is the biggest selling point of the comic, being practically absent for the book – I wonder if that’s why the subtitle is Commercial Suicide? 

Fandemonium left readers with a jaw-dropping finale that Commercial Suicide steadfastly refuses to develop. Bar one issue where the villain does what they did before to another god here, this third volume simply treads water the entire time. We get the Morrigan and Sakhmet’s backstories as well as spend time with Amaterasu and Woden, neither of whom do anything much. The journalist is collecting testimonials for something and Baal’s mooning about death – yawn. It’s frustrating that writer Kieron Gillen made the duller choice when he’s already presented the reader with a far more exciting storyline and then ignored it for most of the book. 

The series has been consistently and beautifully drawn by Jamie McKelvie but now (probably due to working on Phonogram Vol 3: The Immaterial Girl instead) he’s temporarily not drawing WicDiv which is a damn shame if you’re a fan of his art. He still draws the covers and a series of one-pagers called Videogames that appears at the back, but his shadow looms large on the book, showing how poorly the replacement artists measure up to the visual standard readers have come to expect from this series. 

I enjoyed Stephanie Hans and Tula Lotay’s work and poor Brandon Graham’s getting a world of shit flung at him for his art on issue #17 which was fine particularly if you’re familiar with his style but it’s veeery different from McKelvie’s and I can see how it might be a shock if you’ve never seen it before! McKelvie sort of appears in the remix issue which takes panels from previous issues and uses them to create a “new” story which was an interesting approach. Matthew Wilson gives the panels new life with his colours and I suppose it’s appropriate that the remix issue is about Woden, the Daft Punk-lookalike. Generally though the art isn’t nearly as inspiring as it has been up til now. 

Maybe Gillen chose not to advance the main story too much while McKelvie was away and Volume 4 will see a quantum leap in quality – or maybe not. Either way, Commercial Suicide was a plotless, meandering bore that feels unanchored thanks to previously eliminating certain key characters and replacing them with nothing. Where does The Wicked + The Divine go from here? I don’t know and I don’t care - I’m barely sure of what’s happening at the moment! The series started well but has quickly descended into tedium. Very disappointing stuff given the enormously talented creative team behind it.

The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 3: Commercial Suicide

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