Truth Is an Allusion: “The Wicked and the Divine #3”
Gods as pop stars. It’s a novel concept and one that could crumble under its own weight if not pulled off correctly. But so far, we’ve been treated to a thoughtful exploration of where divine intervention meets celebrity worship.
The Wicked and the Divine #3Publisher: Image
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie
Publication Date: 2014-11
Gods as pop stars. It’s a novel concept, that much is certain. It’s an idea that could crumble under its own weight if not pulled off correctly but so far we’ve been treated to a thoughtful exploration of where divine intervention meets celebrity worship.
The examination here of the way people view celestial gods vs. rock gods is an interesting takeaway and makes for a good conversation piece about our (pop) culture today. The premise here is that every 90 years, the gods re-emerge as young people, but then die in two years time. The point being that, even though you’re eternal, that doesn’t mean you live forever. The parallel can be made that when celebrated musicians die (especially young), they live on through their music. Out of tragedy, the artist achieves immortal status and continues to build an audience. Perhaps John Lennon was on to something when he said The Beatles were bigger than Jesus. Imagine if you were to combine the two. Mass hysteria.
In The Wicked and the Divine, devoted fans flock to these higher beings with fervor on par with Beatle-mania. The stage is their church while the music is the sermon. One of these fans is Laura, a fangirl who connects with Luci (aka Lucifer) and is soon thrown into the underworld of the gods. Luci has been allegedly framed for the murder of a judge and is convinced one of her fellow gods is behind it. But she needs Laura’s help, who eagerly makes a deal with the devil that if she can uncover the truth, she will be granted a piece of Luci’s power.
This sets up both an ongoing mystery and a quest for our protagonist. Writer Kieron Gillen has stated he does have the ending all planned out years from now. Right now this thing could go off in any number of directions before the gods once again go into hibernation and it should be fun to meet and get to know them all between now and their inevitable demise. Knowing that they have an expiration date is intriguing as they can basically do anything they want because in two years time, it won’t matter. They can be as bad or as good as they please (hence the title) and once they’re gone, the only thing they leave behind are their legacies.
The book features a female heavy cast that aren’t simply objects of sexual fantasy, which could have easily been the route taken. Gillen takes a different approach, not only filling his book with strong willed females, but also letting them drive the plot. The characters are complex without being overcomplicated and spout natural dialogue that provides information without ramming exposition down our throats.
Jamie McKelvie’s art is fantastic. This book definitely qualifies for the art alone being worth the price of admission. There are several pages that are frame worthy and should elevate this series to the top of anyone’s stack. Matt Wilson’s colors compliment McKelvie and add to the fantastical vibe of gods mixing it up with us mere mortals. If the art stays this consistent throughout the remainder of the year, this should definitely get some attention next awards season. Whatever the case may be with where the narrative is taking us, at the very least this series offers a solid art team.
This issue isn’t quite up to the high standard that’s been set by the previous entries, but it’s by no means unreadable and definitely continues to propel the story forward in an intriguing way. It starts off with a bang, picking up right where last issue’s cliffhanger left off and throws a lot at the reader. The momentum only starts to slow towards the end with a stale layout sequence that tells more than shows and while it gives McKelvie the opportunity to show off his mastery of facial expressions, it ends on the weakest cliffhanger yet that feels more soap opera than the “oh crap, did that just happen” moments we’ve become accustomed to. But although the final page lacks a solid punch, the series is worth staying on board with for the original concept alone.