The Wicked + The Divine #1 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvieBooks Reviews Kieron Gillen
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
Release Date: June 18, 2014
Every 90 years, gods walk the Earth. They amass cults of followers like rock stars singing in tongues to ecstatic throngs — then they die within two years and the divine cycle repeats. The most recent intervention, however, is poised to be anything but routine. As one might expect, not everyone is so thrilled to see teenagers running around declaring themselves reincarnated gods. Laura, a true believer, is plucked from the apoplectic mob by the androgynous, sharp-tongued Lucifer, just in time to watch their whole world go bananas.
The Wicked and The Divine is super-powers and stardom, with a pinch of American Gods and a dollop of Ziggy Stardust put through a philosophical meat grinder. It’s an alluring concept, and writer Kieron Gillen didn’t necessarily have to kick the series off with bang (or, in this case, a snap of the fingers), but he did anyway, laying down intriguing groundwork. We’ve seen celebrities as heroes and heroes as gods, but The Wicked and The Divine looks to be a thoughtful — and thought-provoking — exploration of celebrity, idolatry, creativity and death.
From the color palettes to the character designs, the art team harnesses all that glam into an aesthetic package that’s as simple as it is easy on the eyes. Jaime McKelvie’s digital line work is clean and crisp, yet vivid. The book’s energy lies mostly in his ability to capture a feeling, from the ecstasy of a concert to Luci’s sly smirk. It’s all the more dynamic when he fiddles with that simplicity, breaking borders during an action scene or dwindling panel sizes as a character passes out.
Gillen and his cohorts do not appear content to merely rest on the laurels of mythology — nor should they. A major theme of the series isn’t so much the question of what gods would be up to on Earth, but rather how they’d navigate godliness in the technology age. The Wicked and The Divine has the makings of an enthralling interpersonal tale brimming with meaning and insight … and also exploding heads.