Sunday, May 10, 2015

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

The Wicked + The Divine is a comics series from Image, and this volume collects the first five issues. The concept behind it is that every 90 years twelve gods become mortal for two years. During that time, the gods manifest as celebrities, the ultimate in pop stars, and they entice, entertain, entrance, and inspire humanity in various ways. The tagline points to the way this series approaches the ideas of legendary gods and postmodern celebrity: "just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever."
As you can see, these gods bicker, cavort, revel, and carry on in the ways lots of celebrities do. They also have to navigate and contend with the media coverage. The cast is a diverse one, culled from many pantheons. The main players are Luci (Lucifer), who is a hard-edged pop star (like P!nk maybe?); Amaterasu, who is sort of like Britney Spears or Taylor Swift; Baal, a Jay Z or Kanye type, Sakhmet (a catwoman); Odin, who looks like he's in Daft Punk, and the Morrigan, who is the gothest of goths.
The main plot revolves around a murder mystery, with Luci (naturally) being the prime suspect. Her acolyte Laura thinks she is being framed though, and lots of complications ensue when other forces and players enter into the picture. I have to say that I enjoyed the crisp, clean art, the various plot twists, and the cheeky humor, though there are times I feel there is a forced "coolness" (I am old, so I don't know what it's called today) where some of the characters just come off as being insipid jerks.

This book is the creation of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson. Gillen and McKelvie have many credits in comics, and they have also collaborated on a number of other works, including the creator-owned Phonogram and Young Avengers from Marvel. Wilson has tons of comics credits and also is a host of the War Rocket Ajax podcast. All of the creators speak about their work on this series in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have leaned positive but with reservations.  Don Ventura was intrigued but called it "beautiful to look at while being uneven to read." Doug Glassman called it a "love it or hate it" book and wondered if it "would possibly make a better television series than comic book." Jean-Luc Botbyl generally enjoyed it and wrote that the series "has a lot of potential, but definitely has a long way to go."

The Faust Act is available from Image Comics, and they provide more info here. The series is ongoing, and is currently at issue 10. Issue 11 will conclude the storyline began here.

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